By George Avalos – Mercury News, March 7, 2018
CUPERTINO — AMC Cupertino Square 16, located at the dying Vallco Shopping Mall, will close its doors on March 22 — although it’s possible the movie chain could re-open there with modern cinemas if a deal is struck to redevelop the retail center.
Kansas-based AMC Theaters, a chain of movie theaters with $4.59 billion in annual revenue, and Sand Hill Property, a realty firm that owns Vallco Shopping Mall, disclosed the plan Wednesday to close the Cupertino theater, where 35 people work.
“What AMC now operates in Cupertino is an obsolete movie theater model for them,” said Reed Moulds, a managing director with Sand Hill Property, in an interview. “AMC wanted to upgrade with an invigorated, modern product. At the end of the day, AMC was just not able to ride it out.”
In recent years, Sand Hill Property has sought to redevelop the failing Cupertino retail center, a one-time Silicon Valley shopping destination. The mall has tumbled into hard times after the exit of anchor stores Sears, Macy’s and J.C. Penney — and now, AMC Theaters.
“After a thorough evaluation of AMC Cupertino Square 16 and the mall’s status, we determined further investment in this location was not feasible,” said Dan Ellis, AMC’s senior vice president, domestic development. “We reached an agreement with Sand Hill to close this theater, and we look forward to opening our AMC Sunnyvale Town Center theater.”
AMC has struck a deal to open a state-of-the-art movie complex in a retail center at the heart of a new emerging downtown for Sunnyvale. That modern cinema is due to open in 2019, AMC said.
In the vicinity, AMC operates the AMC Eastridge 15 in east San Jose, AMC Saratoga 14 in southwest San Jose and the AMC Mercado 20 in Santa Clara.
Yet the theater chain eventually could return to Vallco mall, if a “viable” plan to revive the mall is in place by the end of this year, the company said.
“We are hopeful that AMC can return to Cupertino with a state-of-the-art theater and have executed an agreement with Sand Hill to return should plans for a new Vallco be approved this year,” Ellis said.
Sand Hill is seeking approvals from Cupertino city officials to redevelop the Vallco site as a mixed-use complex with an unspecified mixture of retail, restaurants, offices and residences.
“We still have a few other tenants, but AMC deciding to leave is a major blow,” Moulds said. “We were re-designing the retail, entertainment and dining experiences around AMC being there. AMC is a fantastic draw, a real destination, and losing AMC is something that causes us to really take a hard look at what can be done at Vallco.”
The pending shutdown of the movie theaters could trigger even more retail departures at the 1.2-million-square-foot mall. A bowling alley and an ice rink are among the notable retailers still operating at Vallco, besides AMC.
“The AMC shutdown will result in ongoing retail closures at the mall,” Moulds said.
The next step is to attempt to craft a mall revival and rehabilitation plan that satisfies Cupertino, Sand Hill Property and AMC.“We need to stop the bleeding at Vallco,” Moulds said. “We have to create a downtown destination and city center for Cupertino. We are as focused as we ever have been to see that through.”