It's hard to call Santana Row a shopping mall given its balance of city living and planned but not completely contrived urban experiences, but it was even harder to call Vallco competition against the shopping juggernaut that those two adjacent shopping "districts" formed not more than a few miles away.
Vallco (like the mall, its website is under construction) is determined to be more than just the building that houses Todai, the obscenely large sushi buffet.
Like the Downtown Sunnyvale revitalization, Cupertino's Vallco redevelopment has been discussed for quite a while. Even in 2000, vacancy rates were a sky high 25% compared to Stanford Mall and Valley Fair (2-5%). With the equivalent of a quarter of the mall always empty, the rest quickly languished.
That hasn't kept the city of Cupertino from being one of the most sought-after places to live in Silicon Valley. After all, its school district is one of the elite places to get an education in Silicon Valley --- and schools are obviously a huge driver for parents when choosing a place to live. And both Apple and HP, among others, have major presences there.
But Cupertino is also considered a bit... well... boring. Cupertino's "downtown" area, where there aren't big enough quotation marks to put around that word, consists pretty much of one hotel and a couple restaurants flanking it.
With the renaming of Vallco Fashion Park to Cupertino Square, Cupertino hopes to brand itself as a destination, not just a school district. According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, the plan includes a 16-screen AMC movie theater, new restaurants, a bowling alley, and a kid-friendly atrium.
Since Cupertino voted down the original plan to build high-density housing and mixed-use developments a la Santana Row last November, the new Cupertino Square is already clearly differentiated from its urban competitor. How it fares against Valley Fair remains to be seen, but you can find the latest updates in the our Cupertino Square News section.