Demolition begins at Vallco Shopping Center in Cupertino for new development

CUPERTINO, Calif. (KGO) -- For decades, the Vallco Shopping Mall was a popular spot for many residents in the South Bay. However, in recent years, it has become more of an eyesore as tenants moved out.

A local developer is now breathing new life into the property but is facing opposition from some residents who worry about the negative impact it could have on their quality of life.

Sand Hill Property Company was granted permission by city officials to begin demolition on sections of the old mall, beginning with the parking garage on the west side of the property. ABC7 News was there as work got underway Wednesday afternoon.

"Once we complete excavation, we'll be in a position to go vertical, that's when we need to make the decision which project it is," said Reed Moulds, Sand Hill Property Company managing director.

There two proposals on the table. One has been presented by the developer utilizing Senate Bill 35, a new law that eliminates the requirement for local approval of certain developments that include housing. The other proposal is a community-driven plan that was recently approved by the city council. Both projects include a mix of office, retail, entertainment, and up to nearly 3,000 units of housing.

"This looks to be a spectacular project that we could all enjoy, both in its outdoor spaces, which the mall never had, as well as those indoor spaces," said Cupertino Vice Mayor Rod Sinks.

But traffic is a huge concern for many people who live nearby. Vallco sits along the busy Stevens Creek corridor, right off Interstate 280, not too far from Apple headquarters. Opponents say both proposals include too much office space.

"Traffic around Cupertino is already a nightmare," said Cupertino resident Liang Chao. "When you add 10,000 more people, it's just going to be a disaster."

However, the community-driven plan does set aside some funding for traffic mitigation.

"The near-term being things like shuttle services, bike paths, trails, and long-term solutions like a mobility hub right here on this property," said Cupertino city councilmember Savita Vaidhyanathan. "We're working with VTA and Apple to get mass transit here."

There are currently efforts underway to repeal the city council's approval of the community-driven plan. Should that happen, Sand Hill officials say they'll use their original plan, although they could face a lawsuit from opponents who claim it doesn't meet SB 35 requirements.

The developer hopes to have the new Vallco Town Center completed within the next six years. Better Cupertino, the group leading the repeal effort, says it's collecting referendum signatures from registered city voters throughout the month of October, in an attempt to stop the project from moving forward.
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