SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – In the South Bay, Westfield Valley Fair mall is kicking off the first full weekend of summer with a grand reopening of its own, to highlight a $1 billion renovation.

Until now, the changes have been largely unseen by the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown.

“It’s such a gathering place for us and a community center for us. It’s so much more than just a shopping center. And I think that it was well worth the money,” said Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor.

Among the notable additions:
• Expansive outdoor eating area with water features and heated seats
• Luxury section with new high-end retailers Christian Dior, and Reiss
• Digital District, featuring pop-up stores
• New interior architectural design and skylights

“The goal was to create a space like a museum and showcase our retailers as the works of art. So clean lines, great architecture bringing the outdoors in,” said Kate Diefenterfer, the mall’s marketing director.

Ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the completed renovation of Valley Fair Mall, June 25, 2021. (CBS)

Ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the completed renovation of Valley Fair Mall, June 25, 2021. (CBS)

Mall revenue for 2021 has already exceeded 2019 sales, with luxury the highest performing sector, according to Diefenterfer.

“I think those dollars that weren’t going to vacations, that weren’t going to graduation parties last year, weddings — people are still treating themselves. They absolutely want to come and have some sort of shopping, the pent up demand, they say,” said Diefenterfer.

In an effort to diversify the mall’s offerings and price points, Valley Fair has launched the “Digital District,” located near Urban Outfitters, in partnership with Neyborly.

“Neyborly Next is a program designed to help online brands and local entrepreneurs get started in brick-and-mortar retail,” said Richard Kim, of Neyborly.

The physical stores provide space to burgeoning online retailers, allowing customers to inspect merchandise, and face-to-face interactions with the small business owners themselves.

Eleazar Guzman, owner of 408Sell, said before the launch of his “The Sneaker Shop” pop-up store, daily sales via Instagram ranged from $1,000 to $3,000. Now, he tallies $10,000 to $20,000 per day.

“Just a store in general, I didn’t think that would happen anytime soon. But the fact that it’s in, out of all malls, Valley Fair Mall, right across from Santana Row. That was probably the last thing on my mind that I thought would ever happen,” said Guzman.