Fate of new town center in Cupertino lies in local county department’s hands

Project has experienced years of delays since receiving approval in 2018, some which its developer attributes to changes in city leadership

A collage of renderings of the Vallco Town Center in Cupertino (Revitalize Vallco, iStock)
A collage of renderings of the Vallco Town Center in Cupertino (Revitalize Vallco, iStock)

The long arm of defunct dry cleaners poses a threat to Cupertino’s new town center.

Santa Clara County environmental health officials must sign off on reports about how contaminated the site is, who could be exposed to it, and how Sand Hill Property plans to address potential issues, the Mercury News reported. It’s a setback for Sand Hill, which owns the former Vallco Shopping Mall and filed updated reports about the extent of its contamination last month.

The company aims to redevelop the now-vacant 50-acre former mall into more than 2,400 homes, 400,000 square feet for shops and restaurants and 1.8 million square feet of offices. Its fate now lies in the hands of the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health. Once it signs off on updated contamination reports, Sand Hill must submit plans to address contaminants “that present an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment,” the department’s Jennifer Kaahaaina told the Mercury News.

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The Palo Alto developer is optimistic that the project will have a more “certain and consistent process” this year compared to last, when it faced challenges related to changes in city leadership, Sand Hill’s Reed Moulds said in a statement to the newspaper.

Soil samples collected in 2016 show elevated levels of several contaminants. Environmental experts say they probably came from a former automotive center and several dry cleaners, according to documents filed with the California Water Resources Control Board.

Sand Hill intends to remove up to 32 feet of soil for the project’s underground parking garage, which would “significantly” reduce the chances that any contaminants will migrate to structures built on top of it, Kaahaaina told the Mercury News.

[The Mercury News] — Matthew Niksa

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