Simon Co., which owns most of the nearly 75-acre parcel, already has rezoned about 10 acres for high density housing and one 360-unit project is currently in the review process. Simon also has been approved for redevelopment of the Sears building and the adjacent parking structure into an outdoor-oriented retail center with a small supermarket, an athletic club and perhaps a hotel. The project is 256,000 square feet, larger than the 167,000-square-foot Sears store. A city report about developing a framework for redoing an overall plan for the mall area notes that the project is on hold because of the economic uncertainty.
Tuesday evening, the city council will consider the staff recommendation to develop a framework for the area that could lead to a new master plan or specific plan. 10xGenomics already has a three-building life sciences campus under construction on a former retail site adjacent to the mall parking lot.
In addition, the sprawling parking lots surrounding the shopping center could be rezoned for additional high density housing in the current update housing element of the city’s general plan.
The mall situation is even more interesting because Danville-based 300 Venture Group just purchased the land parcel that the JCPenney store is built on. Penney still owns the building and the retail company was saved by a joint venture of Simon and Brookfield, two of the largest mall owners, that partnered to prop up a major retailer operating in many of their centers. No plans were released by 300 Venture, but a spokesman said that the location at the intersection of two interstates in an upscale community makes it a premier site.
The Nordstrom site is owned by another entity, while Simon owns the Macy’s men’s and children’s store on the west side of the mall having purchased them from Macy’s in 2017. Macy’s owns its store and site.
City staff wants to hire consultants to analyze what could work economically and traffic-wise on the key site. It’s hard to believe that one of the Bay Area’s showcase malls in an upscale area now needs way more than a facelift.
The shift to online shopping was accelerated by the pandemic shutdown and, like with office space, the future of the class A space around the shopping center is fraught with uncertainty. It was unusual that the periphery of Stoneridge attracted so many office uses and just one sad retail center when you compare it to other area malls. Amazon was leasing any and all warehouse space in sight for the last couple of years, but it has recently slowed and starting sub-letting space as demand has shifted.
And think how quickly the economy can shift. Workday, which has its headquarters at the Stoneridge BART station plus a three-building complex, had the Pleasanton Plaza retail site under contract before the shutdown. It let that option lapse and 10x Genomics snapped it up and its new campus is due to be completed in 2023. As I reported Tuesday, 10x’s rapid growth has slowed significantly and it announced layoffs of 8% of its workforce.
It’s a good move for the city to establish a framework that can lead to an overall plan for that vital area instead of doing piecemeal one-off considerations.