Monday, March 12, 2007

Cupertino Square Fights Back






With the hubbub about the Vallco Fashion Park renovation, I thought I'd pay it a little visit.

I was surprised to find the mall busier than in the past; especially with the unseasonably warm weather. Only a scant number of shops are still open, partly due to the renovation that has closed off access to where stores would be. The parquet flooring is gone! In its place are warm white tiles, still being installed in places. Upscale tan granite tiles are being installed around planters and columns. A new parking garage is nearly complete near JC Penney.

The most exciting addition is a cinema, which is nearly finished. Its hulking structure is shown on the second picture and the indoor ticket booth is shown on the fourth picture.

An "international" food court is under construction over Wolfe Road near Penney's. I'm assuming they will be cannibalizing part of the Vallco Ice Center. An atrium is planned, but I'm not sure where. Seems likely near the food court.

Also unknown is the fate of the first floor. There are no signs of the walls coming down.

The exterior of the mall will look similar to Santana Row, earning this mall the nickname 'Santana-Row Lite." The artist's rendering of the exterior from Vallco Parkway and Wolfe Rd. looked more like a European village than suburban shopping center. (which begs the question, in Europe, do they build things that look like an "American village?") The second photo shows a partially constructed facade, which will favor modernistic styling, also butting the street.

The fifth photo shows the backside of the center, which resembles a college. Taking any exterior photographs of this mall is near impossible with the thick trees. I love the trees, but it hides the mall. Not to mention, it DOES look like a school (complete with windows that are sealed or store junk).

Well, what do you think about the Vallco, eer, Cupertino Square renovation? Will it work? Can the area support another major mall?

Scott

Read my guide to Vallco Fashion Park

See the aerial view.

11 comments:

Steven Swain said...

This mall's older parts are butt-ugly, while the renovated portions are actually quite striking. her's hoping for a complete renovation.

dean said...

I remember when Valco was THE place to be. It had a comfortable atmosphere and offered regional themes for the different courts that made it unique. There was also a different kind of restaurant there called TGI Fridays that offered strange things they called "potato skins".

Because of it's popularity, Valco always had a horrible parking situation. I don't think it has ever been remedied. I'm glad that they are trying to remake themselves although I worry when I hear they are trying to copy someplace like Santana Row. One needs to put a lot of thought into such concepts. They can turn out bad if they are not fully understood.

Georob said...

Two questions here:

Where did Vallco get its name from? It doesn't evoke any warm fuzzies and sounds awfully corporate, was that the name of the developer or something? Second, didn't Federated originally not want to put a Macys into the Emporium slot and only did so due to threat of legal action or either a competitor coming in? (I recall Dillards being interested at one time)

On paper, this mall should have everything it needs: Good demographics and three strong anchors. Problem is that Sears and Penneys are not percieved as upscale and Macys probably doesn't have the same selections that you'd see at Stanford and Valley Fair. And between those two malls and Santana Row I don't see how Cupertino positions itself as anything more than a mid range lifestyle center, which I'm not convinced can be done in an indoor format.

If Vallco can replicate what Tanforan did, they have a shot. But I'm sure they're watching whatever happens at Sunnyvale Town Center to see what further competition they wind up with.

I know the purists out there want to see malls remain malls, but if a concept no longer works it should be torn down. This is a good location in the heart of the Silicon Valley and it should be given optmum usage.

BIGMallrat said...

Taken from the San Jose Mercury: "According to the Cupertino chamber of commerce, the VALLCO Business and Industrial park was created by the city’s largest landowners in the early 1960s. Of the 25 property owners, 17 pooled their land together to form VALLCO Park. Six others sold to Russell Varian’s electronics company, two opted to leave and farm elsewhere. 'The name VALLCO was derived from the names of the principal developers,' the chamber’s Web site says. 'Varian Associates and the Leonard, Lester, Craft, and Orlando families.'"

Jason said...

The AMC theater at Cupertino Square is scheduled to open next Friday, April 27.

The food court will be in a section of the mall on the upper floor near the JC Penney end. Nearly all the store fronts from the north side of that wing have been demolished to make room.

The lower floor in that section will continue to house the ice rink, but it will be joined by the "Strike!" bowling alley/ family fun center, in the areas formerly occupied by the Tilt arcade and Video Concepts store. (and before Tilt, the food court was there, not that it matters anymore).

The existing building will continue to be an enclosed mall, though a street level entrance to a proposed bookstore is shown in some design renderings. The "Rose Bowl" area, currently a pit between JC Penney and the office block at the corner of Wolfe and Stevens Creek, is the site of the proposed Santana Row-like mixed use development.

Jonah N. said...

Any news on the new food court?

Jason said...

Last I heard, the food court will open in Spring of 2008, which could mean anytime between March and June. This is about a year behind previously announced schedules, but that seems to be nothing new for this mall.

Jason said...

But anyway, the bowling alley opened a few months ago, and it looks quite nice. It is very clean and has none of that smoke-stained look of older bowling alleys. The equipment is all new and the scoring machines are very modern, featuring full color overhead video displays and very small keyboard consoles. There are also big-screen TVs at the far end of each lane always running a variety of sports channels. An unusual feature is that the bowling lanes are actually elevated above the lobby floor, whereas most bowling alleys have the lanes recessed.

The facility has two entrances: one in the mall lower level near JC Penney and another at street level under the bridge at Wolfe Road, allowing after mall hours access. The lobby area is dominated by a large upscale bar and lounge, divided from the rest of the lobby only by a low railing. There is also a small billiard hall and an arcade featuring some fairly new video games and redemption machines, but they all use the Dave & Busters style card readers for payment (though the system is similar, D&B cards can't be used here) and therefore it is difficult to know how much exactly the games cost to play, or how much you've actually spent unless you keep very careful accounting.

What I don't like is that the observation windows over the ice rink, what were formerly accessible in the Tilt arcade and the food court before that are now sealed off, the area now occupied by restrooms. They are very nice restrooms, yes, but I miss the observation deck.

The only access to the ice rink is now (as it had been since Tilt closed) is the stairway and elevator just inside the north mall entrance, between JC Penney and Bennihana.

Back on the south side of JC Penney, there is a new parking structure completely blocking its frontage along Vallco Parkway. A design sketch that can be viewed inside the mall (two storefronts on the bridge section are currently occupied by development offices where these sketches are on display) shows that there are street-level retail shops planned for the base of this parking structure, The intent appears to have these shops in some way relate architecturally to the planned mixed-use development across the street, but right now it just looks like a rather spare concrete parking garage.

Jason said...

Here it is the last day of June, and while construction continues apace, the food court is nowhere near completion, at least as far as I could tell last Friday. The Benihana has been completely renovated and looks nearly ready to reopen with just some finishing details left. The new entrance is much more prominent and modern than the old blue tiled Japanese temple roof the place used to have.

A "Froyo?" has opened in the hall across from the AMC theater box office, and a Cinnabon and Cold Stcompletion right next to it. Hofbrau Beerhall looks to be under construction in that area too, making use of the new grand staircase entry along Wolfe Road.

Anonymous said...

Hey There BIGMallrat,
I didn't know how else to contact you. I'm currently looking for any photos or info on Westgate Mall is San Jose/Saratoga. I'm looking for any photos with the 'space age' marquee that the mall origanly had. Any help is much appreciated

tupac chopra said...

Finally! December 1, 2008:
The new food court has opened.
Well, not the whole food court. Only Burger King, Hoffbrau Express, Popeye's Chicken, and another frozen yogurt place are in there now, but posters on the construction walls suggest many more are coming soon (and "soon" at CS we've learned can be as much as 3 years out). But you can walk through the dining area from the mall to the parking lot.
Mrs Field's moved to a new spot almost directly across the hall from its old location.

The red icons on the new entrance pillars outside Bennihana are already faded after being in place less than a year.

Access to the ice skating rink is particularly nasty now. It looks like they tore down its old decoration for remodeling, but there is no evidence of repair after that, and the passage is even more separated from the mall than it was before.

There is no sign of work in what will be the Hofbrau's main location. Since I checked many months ago til yesterday,there is still a dead bird in the window.