Simon Property Group has unveiled its plans for redesigning the eastern edge of Stoneridge Shopping Center left vacant with the Sears store now closed.
A subject of much public conjecture in Pleasanton ever since Sears Holdings' financial uncertainty began making national headlines in recent years, Simon confirmed its preferred proposal by submitting a design review application with city planners last month.
The plans, subject to final city approval, call for tearing down the Sears building and parking garage in order to add a movie theater, grocery store, a lifestyle health club, and new retail and restaurants.
Other key components of Simon's proposal include adding back only 78 street-level parking spaces -- resulting in a net reduction of 1,251 spots at the mall, with the loss of the Sears garage -- as well as closing off six of the nine driveway openings onto Stoneridge Mall Road, a move that city planners consider a significant improvement over current traffic safety and circulation conditions.
There is no new housing contemplated as part of the current proposal. It is unclear whether this is a one-off redevelopment, or if Simon officials have other projects planned to revitalize the mall site.
The Pleasanton Planning Commission is set to hold an initial review of Simon's application as part of a public workshop on Wednesday, with no final decisions scheduled to be made that night.
City officials anticipate the proposal could move toward public hearings by midyear, at the earliest, according to community development director Gerry Beaudin.
When asked for comment on the redevelopment plans, Simon officials offered a statement from mall manager Jeff Chen: "We are looking forward to presenting our exciting redevelopment ideas for the Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton at Wednesday night's Planning Commission meeting."
With the new application, Simon eyes the first major renovation project at the 40-year-old mall since the Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang's restaurants were built in 2005.
The revitalization focuses on the Sears building left vacant when the now-bankrupt company closed its Pleasanton department store last month -- itself a previous add-on to the mall, constructed in 1995.
Simon proposes to demolish the 178,000-square-foot former Sears storefront and 1,189-stall parking garage and replace them with 258,000 square feet of new multi-use retail and recreation space.
The additions would include three new, two-story buildings for retail stores, with exterior walkways connecting to both floors of the mall.
A fourth new building would include space for a 23,000-square-foot specialty grocery market and two restaurants on the ground floor and a roughly 40,000-square-foot movie theater on the second floor.
The final new building would feature a 125,000-square-foot lifestyle fitness facility with a restaurant space, adjacent to Stoneridge Mall Road.
The only replacement parking contemplated for the project area is 78 surface-level spaces south of the health club.
That would leave the mall with 5,360 spaces -- an overall reduction of 1,251 spots -- after losing the Sears garage. City officials said that count would put the mall at least 348 spots short of the total required by parking standards in the developer agreement between the city and Stoneridge, but they also point out that the city has discretion to consider a lesser parking ratio, if appropriate.
Also as part of the proposal, Simon would reconfigure the existing driving and parking areas to close off all but three of the driveway openings onto Stoneridge Mall Road, as well as create new pedestrian and bicycle access lanes along the inner side of the Stoneridge Mall Road loop.
The plans do not consider any new apartment housing, an addition long speculated to come to the Stoneridge Shopping Center site -- although city staff do note that four sections of land at or around the mall property, including one immediately south of the Sears site and another next to the West Dublin-Pleasanton BART Station, have been earmarked as "housing opportunity sites."
Wednesday evening's work session is designed to allow planning commissioners to provide initial feedback to city staff and the developers in a public setting before the application is finalized.
Key discussion points are expected to include the site design, traffic circulation, parking and building architecture.
Simon representatives would then work to finish the application in light of the input and direction from the commission. If the meeting goes well Wednesday, public hearings could follow as soon as late spring or early summer, according to Beaudin.
The commission's regular meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the city council chamber at the Pleasanton Civic Center, 200 Old Bernal Ave.
In other business
* The commission will review and making a recommendation on the final draft of the city's Trails Master Plan.
* Commissioners and city planning staff will create a list of land-use and planning priorities to forward to the council for consideration as part of its 2019-2020 work plan.
* They will also consider an application from the city to change the land-use designation (to public) and the zoning (to public and institutional) for the property at 4363 and 4377 First St., a commercial site the city acquired Jan. 31 for around $2 million, adjacent to Lions Wayside Park and the Firehouse Arts Center.