R.I.P. Sunnyvale Town Center Mall

The Sunnyvale Town Center Mall or (the WAVE as they tried to rename it) is closing. We went in today and most of the non-chain stores were closing out and selling everything at half off in preparation for the Aug. 31 shutdown of the mall. The Target and Macys anchor stores will remain open.

I’m glad they’re finally putting that mall out of its misery. It’s always been weird going there when half the stores were closed. I’ve never seen a Carl’s Jr. or Cinnabon close, but they did in this mall. I hope it does get revitalized at some point; it sure is a convenient place for us to go shopping and there was a good Hallmark store in there at least. I know the city was never really happy it was there as it breaks up the Murphy street downtown area, but it would be great if something compelling were to end up there. Maybe it will drive more people to Murphy street which is a cute little one block stretch of shops and restaurants. It sure was happenning this morning for the weekly Farmer’s Market.


  1. I remember going to the Sunnyvale mall every saturday afternoon,even during the late 80’s the mall seem to have this “old” feel and look to it.I moved out of California in 98 but had friends tell me the mall was a ghost town the last few years of it’s life..In one way I’m glad to see it closing,in another I’m sad to see it gone,as if a part of history in Sunnyvale has ended.Murphy street always had some great little stores along that block I hope it will boost business for the store owners.Lets just hope they don’t put a Wal Mart where the mall currently stands.

    • Sure sad to hear about the Sunnyvale Mall. Loved shopping there. I lived there in the 70’s through 80’s and moved back home to Idaho in 1991. Loved going to Round Table Pizza adjacent to the mall. Still best pizza ever made. They closed the one in Idaho. Just looking around and saw this post. Thank you, Gordon

  2. I lived in Sunnyvale for a good thriteen years of my life(including the 1989 earthquake). I moved to the Stockton area in 1996 and I saw the mall one last time. It’s hard to believe that the mall no longer exists. My brother used to work at the Musicland there(he now lives in San Diego). I just read that they tried to revive it, but it wasn’t enough. Maybe in the future, they could rebuilt from scratch.

  3. I am stuck in the middle as well, on one hand I am glad to see it put out of its misery as others are. On the other hand though it was a really good place to go in the late 80’s early 90’s. I dont really know why the people stopped going. I believe that Vallco is about 3 years away from Sunnyvale Town Centers fate. Hopefully I will be out of this area by then because theres nothing really left to do here. Valley Fair is all thats left really and that place is a mad house. RIP sunnyvale town center and thanks for the good times!

  4. I watched them tear down the old downtown Sunnyvale in 1978 to make way for the Mall. the remaining Murphy street block was saved, though it was a mess. Today, Murphy Street will be the model that will replace the Mall. Everything old is new again.

    I will stand and cheer every hit on the Mall as they tear it down. A hole in the ground will be better than that eyesore.

    In the end malls will be the exception rather than the rule, anybody remember Mayfield Mall? I didn’t even survive as Hewlett Packard offices and will be torn down as well…buh bye

  5. I worked In the mall from jan. 1990- june 1993. I worked in the customer service booth. In those years the mall was a happening place. We had outdoor concerts. I was also there when JCPenny opened. I sold a lottery ticket for 11.4 million dollars. This mall will always be a good place for the neighborhood. I am sorry that it is closing.

  6. I lived near the mall between 95 and 02. Really never saw this mall as a lively place though I did manage to get some good deals on clothes and shoes there sometimes. The interiors always seemed so dull. Used to walk thru/past it as I am a walking enthusiast. In 01/02 most stores seemed to be closing down, turning the place into a ghost town. When will it reopen ?

  7. I lived in the Silicon Valley area for many years, grew up there. I used to be a mallrat who hung out at Vallco and Sunnyvale Town Center mall. Even got a job at the Sunnyvale Town Center Mall AMC movie theater to meet a girl that worked there. She had already quit when I got the job. But she still hung around the mall since she lived close by. Michelle Riggen was her name. A cute alternative/New Romantic/punk rock girl. We had a very brief affair and I never saw her again.

    But I always liked the mall. It wasn’t as fun as Vallco — just a place to hang out on those long boring summers. I will miss it. Kinda. I detest what Silicon Valley has become so I won’t mis it that much.

    I really miss El Paseo de Saratoga Mall! That was a beautiful mall! Yep, yep. It is still there — but in a different form. Welp, life goes on. Even though malls fade away.

  8. I’ve just come across this post, and was surprized to read that the Sunneyvale Town Mall was closing.

    Actually, I thought is was a pretty good mall… a bit eclectic, design-wise… but, all of the stores were bright, cheerie and well kept.

    Macy’s had a number of items that I couldn’t find everywhere else, as well as Penney’s.

    I remember when Montgomery Wards closed… was vacant for quite some time …with Target taking its place.

    Also, in 2000-2001, they were building several, very large office buildings on the Northeast end of the shopping center. Are they occupied, now?

    And, oh yes… my favourite resaurant was (and, still is… if it’s in business) Tao Tao’s… for their out-of-this-world Chinese Chicken Salad. Yumm!!!

    Any Sunnyvale city “updates”, would be appreciated!!!

    Left the area in 2002 for greener pastures. No regrets, either. But, the Palo Alto to Sunnyvale area is one of the best places to call “home”… in all of California… and the whole USA, for that matter!!

    I remember them building this huge parking structure next to Target/Penney’s… and couldn’t figure out
    why they needed all that extra parking? The one they already had was absolutely huge!!

    Well, reading that the last post was written over 6 months ago, I’m curious what will become of it… or, perhaps, something already has.

    On a side note… I’m curious what has become of the “old” Emporium department store building on the corner of El Camino Real and Route 85 (next to an ??Albertson’s?? supermarket ). It was vacant for years… Home Depot purchased the land, but by majority vote, their permission to build on the land was denied. Did they every succeed in building on it?

  9. And here we are approaching Fall ’05 and the Sunnyvale town center still stands. A very small portion of one of the parking structures seems to have been taken down but thats all.

    Sunnyvale must be losing a fortune with all that valuable land just going to waste.

    Anyone reading this blog who doesn’t know much about Sunnyvale or the surrounding area must think it is a ghost town or something (why else would they have a closed down mall for 2 years). Nope, actually this is a very wealthy area with very low crime. God only knows why a mall couldn’t survive here.

    I truely hope (as a brand new Sunnyvale resident) the new open air town center will be a nice place to visit. I hope it will be a much smaller scale toned down version of Santana Row 🙂

    btw – I post here because when doing a google search for ‘sunnyvale town center mall’ this is one of the top results that come up 🙂

  10. I still have one of the metal butterflies from the huge sculpture that hung from the ceiling in the Mayfield Mall. My dad was one of the architech’s who helped design the mall and they gave him one of the butterflies as a gift.

  11. I just drove by Sunnyvale Town Center. The parking garage is finally gone. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the building, before (always being hidden). But, nothing else is happening. What’s taking them so long?

  12. I agree 100% that the new Sunnyvale Town Center should be a scaled down Santana Row. Actually, I wouldn’t scale it down so much as down $cale it. Put in stores that real people really shop in – like Target and Macy’s. Try to keep those. but add in steets with retail and lots of apartments above.

  13. I actually have heard that it WILL be a scaled down Santa Row, but I am a bit confused becasue to accomplish that you would have to tear down the remaining structure and start from scratch. I was in Sunnyvale from 76-86 and saw this built, and stayed in the area (Saratoga), but have just moved back to Sunnyvale a few months ago (just two blocks form the Town Center) and I can say the garage is gone but I see no construction in the 4 months I have been back, so work (if any) is going very slow.

  14. To this day, I still miss old downtown Sunnyvale. I must admit that I have shopped the Macy’s a lot, but always preferred entering from the Washington Avenue side. I like to think of it as an add-on to Town & Country. The day the mall opened (late 70’s), I thought it was cheesy. What was up with the Lake Tahoe look in the center? Also, having the parking garages in front looked ridiculous (this is exactly what has ruined Valley Fair). Though there are issues with the Santana Row design, it would be a definite improvement. What is halting progress? Money? Lawyers?? Both??? Maybe they should make it into the downtown Sunnyvale campus of Google (a la Mayfield Mall). That will kill it once and for all!

  15. I remember visiting this mall during the late 80s-early 90s with my father when I was a kid and lived in Sunnyvale. Moved away to the East Bay and never came back to Sunnyvale until 2000. By then, the mall had started to slowly lose shops (Miller’s Outpost/Achor Blue, Foot Locker, some magazine shop, etc) until it was just some Indian theatre, McDonalds and the cookie store left.

    I still park in the Macy’s parking lot to walk to the Murphy restaurants. I hope they do something with the land and not put up more apartments.

  16. Susan, that is so awesome that you have one of the metal butterflies from the Mayfield Mall mobil! I’ve seen a photo of that mobil sadly on the ground during the conversion process, glad to know one butterfly survived!!

  17. Work has started! After the last couple of bankruptcies, it looks like the newest owner, a company formed by RREEF and Sand Hill Properties, is impressively energetic. It looks like half the old structure has been demolished after only three days. The plan, only slightly modified from the last blueprints to be approved, is to put the street grid back in place and re-create a mixed-use downtown of commercial and high-density residential units. Sunnyvale’s municipal Web site has fairly complete information at http://www.downtownsunnyvale.com/redev/home.htm

  18. It was a mistake to tear down the old Sunnyvale downtown and put up that nightmare of a mall that really never took off.
    Sunnyvale was a small town and not a town for a mall of this size. Our old town was just fine and it had history and all the parades and events, now it looks like junk.
    Only Murphy Ave is the only place I go to,
    I am glad I live in the East Bay.

  19. I remember being only 3 or 4 getting my ears pierced at Mayfield Mall during Xmas. They use to lay large pieces of cotton down and put moving figures around the mall. It was fasinating at that age.

    When S’vale Town Center opened, we would spend hours with my mom there. Our favorite eateries were Chick Fil A, Giovanni’s Pizza, One Potatoe Two, Orange Julius & Hot Dog on a Stick. As a frequent business traveler, I seek out the closest Chick Fil A now! I miss that the most! We use to pronounce that place Chick Filla and Aladdin’s Castle as Al-ahdins because we were so young & never heard of those places before.

    My adolescent life revolved around the mall. I started working there at the age of 15. I became the asst. manager for Lindsey’s Hallmark by age 16. I worked at Musicland 3 years later than the Athlete’s Foot. Ok so I’m sure some of you have guessed who I am now (circa 1987). During high school I would meet all my public school friends there because I went to a private school. I learned how to take the bus all over S’vale from the bus depot there. We use to have dates at the mall and walk around holding hands.

    One thing we never appreciated was the outdoor courtyard. We never spent much time out there. I was scared of the wooden walk-ways and all the spider webs on the railings.

    After moving back to S’vale after being gone for 8 years I am excited for the upcoming shopping district. I love Murphy St. and hope that they really develop the other side of Washington to incorporate the new shops with the privately owned restaurants on the block. I think this is a wonderful place for all the businesses surrounding S’vale and will again serve as a place for professionals to meet and socialize. I also hope the youth in S’vale will now have a place to work again. I just hope it ends up more like Santana Row rather than the Great Mall. I’d like it to cater more to the adults. I wouldn’t have thought that way back in high school though =)

  20. My first job was at one potato two in ’84-’85, I was sixteen and remember my manager being a go-gos fiend. Many good times. I used to skateboard from the mall to Lawrence and 101. I moved to San Jose in ’86 and then out of state in ’95.

    Does anyone remember the Rocky Horror Picture Show in the old theatre?

  21. At age 17, I worked at DJ’s selling clothes to guys. LOVED that job! Though the mall will be gone, at least they’re leaving the trees. They could serve as a reminder that even when you wanted to make out with someone in the courtyard, the whole mall can still see you. ;P

  22. For the love of God, what was the name of the cookie store? It was the best cookies on earth! I am not talking about the Mrs Fields or whatever that replaced the original one. The one that was on the corner by Mcdonalds and the movie theater.

  23. Sorry Cookies, can’t help you with the name of the cookie shop.

    I moved to Sunnyvale in the beginning of ’98 and the mall was already heading towards its end. But the first couple of years I lived here I thought the mall was a great convenience, especially during the holidays. There was a cool little store that had some neat race-car die-cast models that you couldn’t find elsewhere, plus I always took our watches for batteries to this guy that had a little cart stand in the mall. We got our fridge at Wards and then a vacuum when the chain was going out of business. I think we got it at half price, still using it today, fridge is still working too. I seem to remember there was some pretty decent pizza in the food court. Plus I was a frequent customer at Orange Julius. I think we even saw a couple of second run movies at the theater before it became an Indian movie theater.

    My request to all of you is, especially Marty Kim, Javier, Chris, Suzie, and Vace, do any of you have interior and/or exterior photos you can share of the mall during its good days and bad days, especially since you spent so much time there? A special request to Jeri and Monty, do you have any photos you can share of downtown Sunnyvale before the mall was built? I am putting together a little historical project about this area during the ’70s through the late ’90s and would greatly appreciate any help from all of you.

    On the other hand, I do remember its last final gasps of breath before it closed. We had to get to Macy’s from Target and the doors to the interior of the mall were still open, however on the walk through the mall, there was only one vendor left open in the whole place. It was a small little Chinese food counter in the food court. The rest of the place was completely empty. I remember thinking to myself that day, I had to come back with my camera to get some interesting pictures, but I never did and still regret it today. It was very spooky but really fascinating.

    I too am looking forward to what they are building there now. I went to the recent State of the City event that was held on top of the new parking garage and saw the plans and got a great look around of what they are building, plus I took a lot of pictures. They also had really good Willy’s BBQ, maybe they will open a eatery in there. Hopefully the new development brings back the downtown atmosphere. It looks very similar to Santana Row with a few differences here and there. Target is supposed to close for 6 months or so in January. They are going to knock the current building down and build a new one that is supposed to be huge, although the current one is pretty big. We’ll see what happens, especially in this economy.

    Once again, any help on the historic images would be great.

  24. I lived in that area for a few years in the mid 1990s. My basic memory of the place is how drab and in decline it was already then. I moved away from the area in 2002, so I didn’t know all this time that it closed for good in 2003. Wow, how things change.

  25. I was the manager at Coach House Gifts next door to Swiss colony and across from Fielder Choice and the sunglasses shop. Manager at the sunglasses shop was Dale. Christmas was the best time there in the late 70’s

  26. Is the Giovanni’s in Sunnyvale now the same as the slice place that was in the mall? We were kids but even so, we could tell that pizza was special. And the free Jelly Belly samples around the corner. I don’t remember the name of THAT shop though. I do remember our 6th grade teacher moonlighted at the chocolate shop. Ms. Acre (I think)

  27. Was just telling my teenagers about living in Sunnyvale/Moffett Field area in 1991. I worked for Let’s Party (card and gift shop). I remember walking to work often, opening the store, blowing up balloons, and making displays while listening to 69’s and 79’s rock on the radio. They also had a store in Santa Clara, but I suppose thatis gone now also.

  28. Lots of interesting comments about the Sunnyvale Mall. But I would guess that not many remember the transition from an old fashioned downtown to what is there today. My husband took a transfer with Lockheed and we moved to Sunnyvale from Burbank, CA in February of 1967. Having been raised in a large East Coast city, I was not happy with the rural quality of the area. But I soon discovered downtown Sunnyvale! Hart’s Dept store was a big plus for me as it reminded me of the junior department store near my home in Burbank. There were other stores as well – a great used book store, a cute baby & children’s store, a fabulous Tao Tao Chinese restaurant, a Western ware store, a tiny little eatery where you could get bagel dogs that were out of this world. There were banks nearby and of course Town & Country Village. But there were also some very questionable & rowdy bars toward the end of the downtown blocks. A couple of years after moving from Sunnyvale to Milpitas, I opened my first antique shop in the General Store Antique Cooperative. By that time, downtown Sunnyvale had come on hard times and was looking rather downtrodden and some might say even seedy. Sadly, Hart’s had closed and many other store fronts were vacant, even the pawn shop had closed down. The city wanted to revitalize the area. Enter The Hahn Development Company.

    This organization sold the powers that be in the city an unfortunate bill of goods. Because we were in business in the downtown, we went to every meeting concerning the revitalization plans. What Hahn was proposing was an absolute disgrace. Everything that had been “downtown” was to be razed for a so called fabulous new shopping experience – an enclosed mall. That included homes that elderly citizens had lived in and raised families in, some for 50 years or more. I believe most citizens were against what Hahn had proposed. In fact, at one meeting, an elderly gentleman who got up to address the meeting, was so worked up and angry about the prospect of losing his home he collapsed and died on the floor just as he was finishing his angry tirade.

    In the end, Hahn and the city got what they wanted, but at what cost? The mall had some pretty good stores, Chic-fil-a, Gloria Jean’s coffee store, a really nice cutlery store, Penney’s and Macy’s and more. But the place was like a bunker, even the atmosphere was thick, like being underground. It was never the huge success the city thought it would be. And several successive development companies have also failed in their attempts to create a vibrant mall.

    So much of the history of downtown was lost when buildings suffered the fate of the wrecking ball. But my heart aches when I think of and wonder what became of all the unfortunate elderly citizens who were displaced by this project.

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