Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mall Memories - Sunnyvale Town Center

Here's a scan of a mall directory for Sunnyvale Town Center. It's from sometime in the late Eighties or early Nineties. Sometime before JC Penney joined the mall.

The history of Sunnyvale Town Center is full of drama and intrigue. Intended to revitalize a languishing downtown, Sunnyvale city leaders approved the demolition of historic buildings and cleared the way for a new mall. Opened in 1979, Sunnyvale Town Center was popular for a number of years. It originally was anchored by Macy's and Montgomery Wards. The mall's greatest feature was an outdoor courtyard, encircled by the mall, that preserved six giant redwood trees planted in the 1920s.

Eventually, the mall began to fall out of favor. It was too distant from freeways and obscured by a large parking garage. Some area residents would "forget" that a mall was there (out-of-sight, out-of-mind, so to speak). The final nail in Sunnyvale Town Center's coffin was the changing habits of local shoppers. Newer, larger malls, like Valley Fair, would soon be the biggest retail draw in the region.

A fantastic redevelopment was planned. The mall would be de-malled by tearing off the roof and plowing a street through the middle. Sunnyvale's own version of Santana Row would materialize and make downtown Sunnyvale a shinning success!

In preparation of the redevelopment, leases weren't renewed and the interior of Sunnyvale Town Center closed in 2005. The current anchors, Macy's and Target, are still open and are part of the redevelopment plan. BUT... redevelopment plans have floundered. Mostly attributed to financial woes, the mall hasn't been demolished nor redevelopment begun. Although the monstrous parking garage hiding the center was knocked down this year, that's all that has happened. The future of the center remains muddled.


Visit the current Website.

View a live Web cam of the area.

See the aerial view.

Read an interesting article on the mall.


Steven Wilson said...

On the directory scan, you can see that Chick-Fil-A was still listed. I don't know why the Sunnyvale Town Center Chick-Fil-A closed. It was gone for many years before the mall's demise. Chick-Fil-A's departure from Sunnyvale left Fairfield's Solano (now Westfield Solano) Mall as home to the only Chick-Fil-A location in the Bay Area.

BIGMallrat said...

Funny, I noticed the Chick Fil-A right away, too! It was the only one I knew about here. Otherwise, I saw them all the time in Utah.

Bobby said...

Could you please re-scan this map at a higher resolution sometime? It's all fuzzy.

BIGMallrat said...

Bobby, I'd be happy to send the original scans. They were too large for me post here. If you post another comment with your e-mail address, I'll send you the photos and delete the comment so your e-mail address remains hiddens for all prying eyes!

ybbob said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bobby said...

Thanks for sending me the directory. Man, even in the 1980s it had a fair share of vacancies.

Bobby said...

The "interesting article" link is dead too by the way.

Jason said...

I had occasion to drive around the Sunnyvale Town Center site last night (June 27, 2007). Apart from the Macy's, Target, and the newish parking structure next to Target, the entire mall had been demolished. They did take care to preserve the grove of redwood trees that were once enclosed by the atrium in the center of the mall.

Who knows when new construction will take place, if ever, or how long it will take to complete, but at least something is finally happening with the site.

Jason said...

Rebuilding is well underway. Here is a photo gallery of the construction. (the web site is well constructed so you can find other information starting from there)

Once all this is done, the existing Target (former Montgomery Wards) building will be demolished to make way for a larger single-level Target store with parking underneath.

Joe said...

I moved to Sunnyvale in the beginning of ‘98 and the mall was already heading towards its end. But the first couple of years I lived here I thought the mall was a great convenience, especially during the holidays. There was a cool little store that had some neat race-car die-cast models that you couldn’t find elsewhere, plus I always took our watches for batteries to this guy that had a little cart stand in the mall. We got our fridge at Wards and then a vacuum when the chain was going out of business. I think we got it at half price, still using it today, fridge is still working too. I seem to remember there was some pretty decent pizza in the food court. Plus I was a frequent customer at Orange Julius. I don't remember Chick-Fil-A, but there was a Hot Dog On a Stick. I also think we even saw a couple of second run movies at the theater before it became an Indian movie theater.

On the other hand, I do remember its last final gasps of breath before it closed. We had to get to Macy’s from Target and the doors to the interior of the mall were still open, however on the walk through the mall, there was only one vendor left open in the whole place. It was a small little Chinese food counter in the food court. The rest of the place was completely empty. I remember thinking to myself that day, I had to come back with my camera to get some interesting pictures, but I never did and still regret it today. It was very spooky but really fascinating.

Does anybody out there have pics from when it was open? Exterior and interior? Special events? How about towards its closure?

tupac chopra said...

Target at Sunnyvale Town Center will be closing on January 3, 2009, according to signs posted in the store, to reopen in November 2009 after "remodeling". As stated above, it has been in the redevelopment plan to demolish and replace the existing store with a larger single-level Target with sub-level parking. "Remodeling" seems rather an understatement, don't you think?

Anyway, the new construction on the former mall site is now far more immense than the mall ever was. Though still incomplete, even skeletal in parts, the new mixed use center is taking shape quickly and nicely.

Kyle said...

(to Joe)
i found a bunch of pictures online of the Town Center because I'm looking for pics, too...don't know if you're interested.

I have a few pics of the interior, some shots of it before demolition, some shots of it from a week ago and pics of the Town & Country Village

Angry Albino said...

I really wish this mall didn't end up the way it did. I will never in my life see a mall that was designed so intricately.

I remember how the arcade was positioned down a corridor next to what became a McDos. It was mostly wooden and had a great vintage feel to it.

Goodbye childhood memories. They don't mean a thing in this world.

Joe said...

Kyle - I would DEFINITELY be interested in the photos you found online (do you have a link?), plus what you have. I was just at the "new" incomplete Town Center to get a cabinet at the brand new Target. I walked around the newly paved Santana Row-esque sidewalks around it and was trying to imagine where I would have been in the old mall. Yes, get back to me about the photos - post a comment.

vanessalp said...

So sad to see Sunnyvale Town Center die. It was "the mall" for me and my friends in high school in the 1980s. I had my first kiss in the movie theatre there.

Anonymous said...

Is the offer for a higher resolution copy of the map still open? Thanks

Anonymous said...

HI, I would love a higher resolution copy of the map too! Is this blog topic still active?

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in links or pics as well!! True Sunnyvale native.

Anonymous said...

I moved to Sunnyvale from Texas as a 20 year old in 1983. My first job was at Kinney Shoe, and worked there for 4 years. That mall has so many memories, especially the oak trees in the middle of the mall. So sad to see it go, but time marches on.

Anonymous said...

Actually that looks more mid to late 90's, there's no Waldenbooks on the map.

Jab said...


Would it be possible for me to get a copy sent to my email of the original scan as well?

If not it's all good, I can provide more contact info if it is possible to get the higher res. copy