A digital rendering of a development planned for Cupertino.
This digital rendering shows what a portion of the street level park and gathering spaces could look like at The Rise, a 50-acre planned development on the former site of Vallco Mall. Image courtesy Sand Hill Property Company.

After facing cutbacks and years of delays, the largest single housing project in Cupertino’s history has secured its long-awaited city approval for a mixed-use development on the former Vallco Town Center site.

The Rise, a mixed-use development on the corner of Wolfe Road and Stevens Creek Boulevard, encompasses 50 acres. The development will include 2,669 apartments and homes, with more than seven acres of public park and gathering spaces and about 230,000 square feet of retail space. The project received approval from the city’s community development department Friday.

Tina Kapoor, deputy city manager, said the development shows Cupertino’s commitment to the needs of residents.

“It’s offering residents a full range of housing choices that accommodates the changing needs of our demographic and economically diverse population,” she told San José Spotlight.

Palo Alto-based developer Sand Hill Property Company will begin work in the coming months once it secures the necessary permits.

After a decade of delays and community contention, Sand Hill said the project is an important step for the community.

“The market forces that have continued to impact projects across the Bay Area over the past 18 months have pushed us all to new levels of creativity and adaptability, and surfaced an even deeper commitment to working together to ensure this project is successful,” Reed Moulds, Sand Hill managing director, said in a news release.

Last December, the company submitted materials to request a project modification to Cupertino planning officials scaling back the development.

The changes to the original proposal included more housing, but a decrease in affordable homes by one-third to 890 apartments. The developer eliminated rooftop parking and went from seven residential towers to three, all under 240 feet. Retail space decreased from nearly 430,000 square feet to roughly 230,000 square feet and office space slightly decreased from roughly 1.98 million square feet to about 1.95 million square feet.

This digital rendering shows what a portion of the dining and retail spaces could look like at The Rise, a 50-acre planned development on the former site of Vallco Mall. Image courtesy Sand Hill Property Company.

The development also sparked multiple lawsuits, ballot referenda and division between factions of residents and city leaders who supported or opposed it.

In 2018, the Cupertino City Council approved a version of the development plans that complied with Senate Bill 35, a then-fresh state law intended to streamline approvals for housing projects that fit in with city zoning and planning rules and meet certain criteria. The proposal included a massive package of community benefits, such as a new city hall building. But legal challenges delayed and threatened the project, and a redesigned development without those benefits was proposed and approved by planning officials in March 2022. The city has since regained SB 35 status for the project.

Rhoda Fry, a Cupertino resident for more than 40 years, said she is concerned about the decrease in affordable housing and the building’s energy use, citing its environmental impact. She said she wants the city council to step up.

“Our city council needs to grow a backbone,” she told San José Spotlight. “It’s an environmental issue, public safety issue and affordability issue.”

Mayor Sheila Mohan is a proponent of the project and said it reflects Cupertino’s goals as a city.

“The approval is a testament to Cupertino’s dedication to fostering sustainable growth, while striking a balance between progress and compliance with state law,” she told San José Spotlight.

The Rise will satisfy more than half of the city’s housing obligations, part of the city’s housing element requirement that must be submitted every eight years laying out how it will accommodate housing needs. Cupertino must add 4,588 homes — 1,880 of which must be deemed affordable — by 2031.

The city is expected to have an approved housing element this April, after missing the state’s deadline for more than a year and settling a judgment with housing advocates last month.

Kapoor said the development will add to the city’s vibrancy.

“We’re looking to the future and bringing more resiliency to the community,” she said.

Contact Annalise Freimarck at [email protected] or follow @annalise_ellen on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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