Dai Sugano

The city of Cupertino, home to Apple, is shuttering the mostly abandoned Vallco Mall and moving forward with plans on a $4 billion mixed use construction project that will add housing and office space less than a mile from the tech company's home base. The developer, Sand Hill Property Co., has been working on the project since 2014 but faced opposition from residents concerned about adding density.

The project qualifies for a speedy approval thanks to a state housing law requiring cities to expedite projects with affordable units built with union labor. “Cupertino, like the entire Bay Area, is in desperate need of housing of all kinds,” says state Sen. Scott Wiener. The project will include 2,923 residential units, 485,000 square feet of retail space and 1.5 million square feet of office space.

Among the other amenities are a performing arts center, city hall, cash benefits to the Cupertino Unified School District, and six acres of public open space at the proposed town center site.But the request to dedicate some of that residential space for affordable housing inflamed Cupertino residents.

“According to the sales pitch, the new housing units would include low-income high-density housing apartments,” said one Cupertino resident at Tuesday night’s meeting. “This would mean that we would have uneducated people living in Cupertino. A lot of other residents and I are concerned that this would make the current residents of Cupertino uncomfortable, and would split our city in half.”Back-and-forth about the economic impact and public notice for the Vallco project made up the bulk of Wednesday’s meeting.

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