CUPERTINO (CBS SF) – Demolition began Thursday for the old Vallco shopping mall in Cupertino, as the site is set to become a new housing and office development after sitting mostly empty for years.

The future of the nearly 60-acre site, located about one mile from Apple’s recently-completed headquarters, has been subject to years of intense community debate and numerous delays until a decision by the Cupertino City Council three weeks ago.

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Opponents of the project raised numerous objections, from potential traffic impacts, to overcrowded schools.

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After 14 hours of deliberations over two days, which included angry comments among some residents, the council approved a mixed-use project with nearly 3,000 housing units, along with offices and retail.

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Artist rendering of development at site of former Vallco Shopping Mall. (Sand Hills Property Co.)

Sand Hill Property Company, which owns the site, is deciding on whether to go forward with the city’s plan or a development plan under Senate Bill 35, a new state law making it easier to build affordable housing, particularly in areas that have resisted such projects. The SB 35 plan, which also includes office and retail, calls for about 2,400 units of housing, half of it being affordable.

“Cupertino, like the entire Bay Area, is in desperate need of housing of all kinds,” State Sen. Scott Wiener, who authored SB 35, said in a statement.

“The Vallco project includes historic amounts of market rate and affordable homes. It has stalled for years due to local opposition, and today marks an important milestone in moving beyond this opposition. If we are serious about digging ourselves out of our huge housing deficit, we need projects like this one,” Wiener went on to say.

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Meanwhile, a group of opponents called Better Cupertino are not planning to give up their fight. The group has vowed to put a referendum on a future ballot and is considering a potential lawsuit against the development.