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Asian cultural mall cancelled after multiple delays?

At the east intersection of Stevenson Boulevard and Albrae Street just north of highway 880 is a plaza Google Maps marks as “The Globe Mall” which is also assigned the label “permanently closed.” In actuality, this location was what was supposed to be a mall themed to represent the teeming Asian culture and heritage in Fremont. However, the 450,000 square feet celebration of culture would be delayed for decades of its development until being “Permanently Closed” and the land sold to corporate buyers.

Illustrated by Ku Li

By Daniel Gong, Katelyn Shen, and Praghna Palaparthy


The original plan for the 450,000 plot of land split the lot into six parcels and multiple villages to replicate many aspects of asian feudal culture. In between these parcels would be restaurants, entertainment locations (karaoke clubs etc.). The Globe Mall Promised to house stores found nowhere else in Fremont like a 40,000 feet grocery store and twelve story hotel (which would make it the tallest building in Fremont). And as described by APIC, the original owner of the land, The Globe mall was supposed to be “a place to experience the world without leaving the Bay Area.”

Development started in 2007. Only a year later, the recession of 2008 would put a pause on the project. At that point, only 70,000 square feet of the 450,000 was built, and for the five years following the recession, the mall was exchanged between a slew of developers and multiple delays essentially meant little further development.

In combination with its static construction was the fact that the newly erected facilities were not in demand. The few finished sections housed a couple of furniture stores on month-to-month leases. But in 2013, APIC (American Pacific International Capital), a San Francisco based real estate company that has successfully built five star hotels in China and a condominium in the U.S. purchased the rights for the project for 200 million dollars. APIC’s investment of $200 million promised development as the average cost of a mall ranged from $25 million to $180 million.

But from any other perspective, the investment was a promised dud. There was almost no publicity at all; the mall is being built in a relatively empty area in Fremont and five years of delays dulled the initial excitement. Still, APIC released plans to develop the mall and planned to finish stages four and five of development by 2015. However, ultimately, these plans never came to fruition. Whether it be the lack of interest, or slow development in general, after fifteen years only 6 percent of the original project has been built. Now, seven years after their initial buying, APIC is looking to sell a majority of their ownership at a huge loss.

After development started in 2007, it was stalled only a year later due to the Great Recession in 2008. Only 70,000 square feet of the 450,000 was built before the delay, and for five years after 2008 the plan went through multiple developers and multiple delays that ultimately led to little development. The project seemed dead in the water; there was almost no development, and there was no public interest as well.

In fact, the only tenants at the completed sections of the mall were a couple furniture stores on month-to-month leases. However, after five years of this standstill, in January 2013, APIC (American Pacific International Capital), a San Francisco based company which has built multiple successful five star hotels in China and a condominium in the United States suddenly bought the project for $200 million.

The two buyers of the property are Scannell Properties, an Indianapolis based company, and the Nguyen and Le group, a Milpitas based investment group. Scannell is a privately owned real estate company that has completed 450 development projects, and they’re now pursuing to build an industrial warehouse in the location. Scannell paid $52.5 million to buy four of the six parcels, which equates to about 22.5 acres.

Nguyen and Le paid $11.1 million for a smaller section of 2.5 acres. Due to the fact that Nguyen and Le are a smaller group, APIC loaned them $7.8 million to finance the purchase. While the land is finally sold, APIC suffered a huge loss as they earned $63.6 million for a majority of a space that cost them $200 million.

While Nguyen and Le have not released plans on what they plan to do with the property, Scannell plans on developing a 397,000 square foot industrial center through three separate buildings on Albrae Street. This development will lead to 300 to 650 permanent jobs in Fremont, and 350 to 400 temporary jobs during the 11 month construction of the property.

While the Asian heritage celebration is essentially gone, the area has been unused for over a decade, and it is definitely a good thing that there is finally development.When asking members of the Asian community, I found that many were not impacted much. According to one student, “Honestly, I had no idea they were even building a mall there.” Even older generations who were present when the original plans were made had little knowledge about the mall, with one saying ““I have never heard of these plans.” This lack of awareness is a major reason why the project failed, as a cultural center without recognition from the culture is always doomed to fail.

The tech-oriented industrial center will also provide up to 650 permanent jobs for Fremont residents, which is always a welcome sight. While the development of the area will definitely come with negatives for local residents, such as noise, dust, etc., Scannell has made promises in response to local concerns. In their response, Scannell has promised to add solar, route trucks away from neighborhoods, hire subcontractors & apprentices, and pledge $500,000 to fight homelessness.

In addition, compared to the previous plan of an Asian-themed mall, the new plan by Scannell to have an industrial center is a lot more realistic. The idea of an Asian-themed mall was really out there, as it has never been done before and included a variety of different elements combined. The amount of money, labor, and resources needed to accomplish that is definitely not small, and expert predicted success was not likely to begin with.

With the numerous delays thanks to the Great Recession, there was very little who knew about and even less who cared about the project when APIC purchased it. In addition, with the numerous delays after APIC acquired the center, the project was truly dead in the water. Finally, the project was very unlikely to be profitable, as there were very few shops who even showed interest in being in the area.

On the other hand, an industrial center proves to be a more realistic plan as it is something that has been constructed before in other places. It is not a unique idea, and with proper oversight, can be a positive to the community and can actually generate revenue. Being a more realistic plan, it is highly likely that the plot of the land will finally be put into use as the completion of the industrial center is very likely.

However, the community response to this decision has garnered very mixed reactions from the community. As one Fremont high schooler believes, “I don’t think Fremont needs a new industrial tech center because we don’t need more people coming into Fremont from outside because Fremont already has a lot of people. Rather, Fremont needs more basic jobs.”

In the end, while the plans for The Globe Mall were unrealistic, the loss of a potential culture hub is definitely a big one. Culture hubs are a place for people of similar backgrounds to mingle and celebrate, and with a quarter of Fremont being East Asian, The Globe Mall would have been one of the biggest culture centers in the city.

As one resident put it, “I understand the choice, but I feel like a mall would’ve been nice.” However, while this is definitely a loss, Fremont has made progress in the past few years to celebrate Asian culture, with multiple festivals and celebration events. Ultimately, the present situation is better than when development started fifteen years ago; celebration and recognition of Asian culture in Fremont is increasing, and new jobs are being created through this purchase.

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