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Sand Hill and its principal and founder Peter Pau have poured a lot of money into Cupertino over the years. The group has led a Cupertino Village revitalization and the Hilton Hotel and the Whole Foods Market projects, and currently Main Street Cupertino near Vallco at the intersection of Stevens Creek Boulevard, Tantau Avenue and Vallco Parkway.
Sand Hill’s investment at Vallco is potentially enormous. Moulds is estimating a full revitalization could run up a bill of about $2 billion. As a regional comparison, Apple Campus 2’s construction investment is estimated at $3 billion and the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium was estimated to cost more than $1 billion.
In February, Sand Hill launched vallcovision.com, a community portal that will be a landing page of sorts for the Vallco redevelopment. The website provides a history of Vallco, updates on the revitalization plans and frequently asked questions, and allows residents to send in their comments and ideas. In March, Sand Hill sent out more than 25,000 information cards by mail asking the community to “chime in” with their thoughts, according to Moulds.
Sand Hill plans to follow an outreach model somewhat similar to what was done with its Main Street Cupertino project. In March and continuing into April, there are plans to host more open houses at Vallco with nearby neighbors and residents throughout the city to introduce Sand Hill as the new owner, update residents on the status of the mall and receive input on the revitalization. Residents are also able to ask for a tour of Vallco, or to schedule a neighborhood gathering, homeowners association meeting or community group presentation about the revitalization. Requests can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sand Hill has also hired former Cupertino mayor Sandra James as its public affairs manager. James served on the council in the late 1990s and into the early 2000s. She previously held a similar job with Lehigh Permanente. James also leads the Cupertino Veterans Memorial at Memorial Park and organizes the annual Veterans Day ceremony at the park.
“We were excited to bring Sandy James on board due to her unmatched knowledge of the community as a longtime Cupertino elected official and community leader. Whether she’s been supporting veterans, children with special needs, public safety officers, teens or the business community, she has been dedicated to the residents of Cupertino for decades,” Moulds says.
Sand Hill plans to work with the school districts on potential school impacts. James also served on Cupertino Union’s school board for many years before becoming a council member.
After gathering community feedback, Sand Hill plans to refer to that information when formulating an outline for a project. A plan could come in late spring or early summer. Additional community engagement, as well as environmental and project review by the city, public hearings and ultimately a revitalization plan will be presented to the city council for review and approval sometime next year, according to Moulds.
Entertainment venues like the ice rink, bowling alley and movie theater seem to be getting positive reviews from the public that has engaged so far.
“We are hearing from the community that they want entertainment-oriented retail at Vallco and a mix of uses where people can live, work, shop and play,” Moulds says. “Entertainment venues like theaters, bowling, fitness and ice skating will be key to a real downtown for all Cupertino residents to enjoy, and we plan to include them.”
Sand Hill is considering ways to work with landowners to make traffic improvements at and around the Wolfe Road/I-280 interchange. A privately funded community shuttle service around Cupertino is being considered as well.
Sand Hill purchased all four Vallco parcels in pieces and eventually the interior mall from a mostly absentee ownership group from Vietnam for an approximate total of $316 million. The interior mall was the last purchase piece and accounts for $116 million, according to Moulds.
This is the first time Vallco has been under a single ownership in its nearly 40-year history. Today, the 1.2 million-square-foot mall has an occupancy rate of about 60 percent. The previous ownership structure handcuffed each mall owner from pursuing improvements as just about every redevelopment decision required the unanimous consent of the anchor stores.
“Vallco has long been neglected, and numerous redevelopment efforts were either abandoned or have failed because the four owners could not agree on much of anything,” Moulds said.
In December, the city council amended part of its General Plan, which included a vision of what could come to a revitalized Vallco. The city studied 600,000 square feet of retail, 2 million square feet of office space and up to 800 housing units along with a hotel as part of a town center-style vision for Vallco. No rezoning has been done to date.
The housing component is already facing some opposition from a group of engaged residents. The Cupertino City Council had a packed-to-capacity chambers for the first round of General Plan amendment talks in November. A consistent group of residents have also been coming to council meetings and voicing concerns about housing, traffic and school impacts.