Downtown Sunnyvale’s redevelopment is entering its final phase, in spite of COVID-19. The Sunnyvale City Council approved the plans for the final phase in mid-August. Dave Hopkins, Chief Operating Officer at Sares Regis Group of Northern California (SRGNC), says while COVID-19 is a factor now, he does believe that things will get better.
“We’re watching the local economy like everybody is,” said Hopkins. “The fact is, this is a situation where we’ve got people reacting to an immediate set of circumstances around a pandemic and the pandemic’s going to, in a slow manner, organized way, work itself out. This economic impact will start to go away, it’s just a matter of when.”
While the pandemic will not ultimately stop the redevelopment project, it has slowed things down. Retail shops that were supposed to open in the spring and summer have not been able to. Both the AMC movie theater and Whole Foods were supposed to open in the spring and are still not open today.
“The movie theater, it was going to open back in March. It was all ready,” said Hopkins. “Obviously, that didn’t happen because the shelter in place orders came down in mid-March. We’ve just been in a holding pattern, waiting for the county to get to the point where they can allow movie theaters to open and we’re not quite there.”
The Whole Foods is now set to open in October. Its opening was delayed because construction could not be done during the initial shelter in place. Once the county orders were eased, construction started back up.
SRGNC and Hunter Storm, the developers behind the Downtown Sunnyvale redevelopment project, say now that the plans are approved, work will soon start at the site of the old Macy’s building.
“Our most likely groundbreaking is just the demolition of the Macy’s building which has been empty for about a year and a half,” said Hopkins. “[It] represents the site of the future office development, which will have two office buildings and retail on the ground floor. That demolition will kind of get everything going on that block.”
The ability to acquire the Macy’s building a few years ago added the final pieces to the project. Adding that piece of land has allowed the developers to create a one-acre public plaza at the heart of the development. The plaza will center around the already existing redwood trees.
“We did get the approval with our plan to remove one redwood tree,” said Hopkins. “That one will be replaced by two new ones, which are going to be planted in the grove where the majority of the trees are right now. The reason is, it’s the tree that’s a bit on its own, and just impacts the usability of the site.”
The final phase will add a maximum of 792 new residential units along Murphy and McKinley Avenues. It will also include approximately 182,000 square feet of ground floor retail and 650,000 square feet of office space. It is scheduled to be completed in 2023-24.
Hunter Storm and SRGNC took over the CityLine Sunnyvale redevelopment project in late 2015 after nearly eight years of starts and stops by the previous development group. So far, the redevelopment project has delivered nearly 200 apartment units and 100,000 square feet of retail space.