Results tagged “residential” from Raincross Square

Photos: Riverside's citrus legacy

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Two weeks back, we featured an item on the recent unveiling of a downtown statue honoring Riverside citrus pioneer Eliza L. Tibbets.

In the early 1870s, Eliza secured two small navel orange trees from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for test planting in Riverside. Originating as a mutation in Bahia, Brazil, these navel trees took well to Riverside's semi-arid climate, producing a sweet, succulent and seedless navel orange. California -- and in particular, Inland Southern California -- would never be the same.

The unveiling of the statue prompted us to dig through our image bank for photos associated with Riverside's citrus legacy. Of course, it also forced us to go out and take some new photos for items we didn't already have (and update some we did).

Though certainly not a complete collection of images related to Riverside's citrus past (nor does it include images from other local citrus-rich communities, namely Redlands, Corona and Upland), we feel the gallery still manages to show the wide-reaching importance the navel orange played in shaping both Riverside's landscape and its history -- a history that was dramatically changed with the arrival of two seemingly inconspicuous navel orange trees in 1873.

Photo Gallery: Riverside's Citrus Legacy

Related

Sources: "A Colony For California" (Tom Patterson), "Pursuing Eden - Matthew Gage: His Challenges, Conquests and Calamities" (Joan H. Hall), "A Citrus Legacy" (Joan H. Hall), "Adobes, Bungalows, and Mansions of Riverside, California Revisited" (Esther H. Klotz, Joan H. Hall), City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside Public Library


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March 2011
499 Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Chase Bank (originally Coachella Valley Savings & Loan #3)


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1960
Coachella Valley Savings & Loan
Palm Springs

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1963
Central Library
Riverside

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2011
303 Building
San Bernardino

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2011
Provident Bank
Redlands

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2011
Riverside

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2011
Wesley United Methodist Church
Riverside

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2011
Rivera Library
UC Riverside

A recent trip to Palm Springs reminded us of that city's sizable collection of mid-century modern architecture, including the former Coachella Valley Savings & Loan building pictured above. Designed by E. Stewart Williams, the building is an excellent example of modern bank design from the 1960s.

We'll explore some of these desert gems at a later date. But the two-day visit also reminded us of a number of modern gems closer to home as well, a few of which we will share now.

The building that probably best resembles the style of the one pictured above is Riverside's main library (aka, Central Library). Located on Mission Inn Avenue in downtown Riverside, the building's striking appearance stands out among its Spanish-influenced neighbors. As such, it has suffered from harsh criticism through most of its existence. And though better appreciated these days by younger generations, the structure is currently in danger of being demolished to make way for what's expected to be a new library building. (For what it's worth, we actually admire the current library building.)

As with the Coachella Valley Savings & Loan, the Riverside library's "floating" walkway, large overhang, symmetrical "screens" and rigid, box-like appearance are all trademarks of mid-century modern architecture. Both buildings are in the vein of the New Formalism style of modern architecture, which was popular for public, institutional and financial buildings during the 1960s.

Elsewhere, one of the Inland region's best mid-century office buildings can be found in downtown San Bernardino. Built for the State of California in 1966, the 303 Building housed state offices for over 30 years until a new building opened a few blocks away in 1998.

In 2007, after sitting vacant for several years, the building reopened following a $25 million renovation by the County of San Bernardino. The refurbishment included removal of asbestos and lead paint, but the building's exterior retained its mid-century designs, including the slender vertical screens.

Another local gem is Provident Bank in downtown Redlands. Designed by Riverside architect Clinton Marr, the building's tall, rigid walls project strength and security -- an architectural trait sought by banks during the mid-century era. Its undulating, rippled roofline adds a futuristic touch to the structure.

Though certainly not as prevalent as in Palm Springs, the local region does have its fair share of modern residences, with the majority of these found in Redlands and Riverside.

The region also has a number of mid-century churches, including the fanciful chapel at Wesley United Methodist Church located on Arlington Avenue in Riverside. Another Clinton Marr design, the 1959/60 hat-box looking chapel was built using "a thin shell form finished in gunited concrete."

Finally, one of the best collections of local modern architecture can be found at UC Riverside, where several buildings were constructed during the 1950s and 1960s. Of particular interest are the Rivera Library, Olmsted Hall and University Theater buildings, each unified via the use of an archway motif.

Also noteworthy at UCR is the 161-foot-tall Carillon Tower. Designed by the firm of A. Quincy Jones and Frederick E. Emmons -- one of America's best-known modern architectural firms -- the 48-bell carillon was officially dedicated in October 1966.

We hope to explore these and others modern gems in more detail in the coming months. As usual, be sure to use the comment section to tell us of your own favorite modern building(s) scattered about Inland Southern California (particularly those hidden gems we may not know about).

Photos: (coming soon)

Sources: UC Riverside, Clinton Marr & Associates (1964 booklet), The Press-Enterprise, City of Riverside


Then & Now - Riverside Town House

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Then & Now
Riverside Town House: 1950s - 2009
Flash: View photo overlay

We know little of the history surrounding the block bounded by Fifth, Sixth, Lemon and Lime streets in downtown Riverside, but a 1948 aerial photo shows the entire lot devoid of development, with grass, shrubbery and some trees as well as a few walking paths. Although it's likely the block once contained at least a few homes, the 1948 aerial gives the impression the lot had recently become an impromptu neighborhood park.

In December 1948, however, a building permit was issued for a 96-unit apartment complex, which would encompass the entire block. According to the permit, the applicant (and owner) was Mr. J.J. Goldbach, who listed a McAllister Ave. address in the Arlington area of Riverside. The permit also lists architect William F. Mellin, A.I.A., of 671 "D" Street in San Bernardino.

The "Riverside Town House" project, which was given an address of 3489 Sixth Street, was initially valued at $500,000, resulting in permit fees of $292.00.

Nearly 60 years later, excepting for the addition of utility lines, the much taller palm trees and a few re-positioned light poles, it appears little else has changed.

Flash: Riverside Townhouse: 1950s - 2009

More: RaincrossSquare.com - Then & Now

Sources: City of Riverside, HistoricAerials.com


After decades of nearly unfettered sprawl, the time has come to seriously begin changing the basic developmental patterns of Inland Southern California.

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2006
Corona Pointe
Corona

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2006
Crossroads Corporate Center
Murrieta


Ontario

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Downtown Riverside
MetroPacific Properties, LLC

Gone should be the days of leap-frogging, low-density development. In its place, should come more balance, both in densities and in types. More mid- and high-rise development coupled with higher percentage of business and commercial projects (and less residential).

As previously mentioned (one | two), we're not suggesting New York City style mega-density, but pockets of moderate densities -- particularly in downtown Riverside and around Ontario Airport -- similar to those found within the downtowns of Pasadena, Glendale, Santa Monica and Long Beach.

If the recent recession has demonstrated any major weakness within Inland Southern California, it's the region's lack of commercial maturity and continued reliance upon warehousing and residential development as its primary form of economic growth. Not only has such dependence created an unbalanced (and unreliable) economic engine, it's left the region with an unbalanced (and wasteful) landscape, one dominated by sprawling development and ever-growing commutes.

Quite simply, area residents, builders and government officials alike must begin accepting -- and more importantly, insisting -- on better quality, higher density, more diverse development patterns focused more around jobs and less on housing tracts. Moreover, such future development needs to be coupled with -- and encourage -- alternative transportation, else this region will remain a land of nightmarish commutes.

However, amid the hardships of the current economic downturn lies a silver lining. Or better yet, think of it as a golden opportunity. A chance for Inland Southern California to catch its breath, re-focus and begin adding balance back to the region's landscape. Fortunately, a smattering of projects, both built and proposed (some of which are stalled due to the current economic climate) may signal change is afoot. But just as it took several decades to get to where we are today, it will likely take several to re-balance. But without a doubt, the transformation needs to begin sooner rather than later.

Thus, the question remains -- will we take advantage of the current slowdown to begin addressing and planning for the region's long-term, sustainable economic and lifestyle needs? We think the clear answer is -- can we afford not to?


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Growth as usual?

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Last month, a report issued by the California Department of Finance indicated Inland Southern California will likely double to 8 million residents by 2050. Whether all 4 million new residents show up within the next 40 years or not, recent history indicates the region can still expect a large influx of new residents.

As we previously noted, the million-dollar question is whether Inland Southern California will follow current patterns and continue sprawling farther outward? Or, will local officials, developers and residents alike begin accepting the need to begin growing smarter?


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The good
San Bernardino


2007
The not so good
Menifee
Google


2007
The better
Downtown Riverside

Two recent news items may give an indication of where we're headed. One article gives us hope that change is coming, specifically that both local governments and developers are beginning to add density -- and diversity -- to their mix of projects. The other article, however, gives us cause for concern and points to the notion that it is -- and will be -- "business as usual" in the ever-sprawling Inland region.

First, the good. Banking giant Wells Fargo recently announced the consolidation of various offices scattered about the region into a single, 5-story office building in the Hospitality Lane area of San Bernardino. Although we would have preferred to see the consolidation take place within downtown San Bernardino -- or even downtown Riverside -- the Hospitality Lane area indeed is a very successful campus-style commercial development. As such, its densities are not quite that of a downtown area, but at least a single 5-story building beats five, 1-story tilt-ups taking up five times the land area.

Second, the not so good. A recent article highlighted developers looking ahead toward the next wave of housing growth -- specifically, where it'll likely take place. In our opinion, the article displayed several problems for the future of this region if current development patterns are not changed sooner rather than later.

In particular, two aspects concerned us the most. One, the fact that most developers tend to be eyeing residential projects (as opposed to a balance of housing and employment projects):

Even amid the biggest housing slump of the past decade, Inland developers and planners are not asking if or when the market will rebound -- but where.

... Economists have forecast the housing market may not pick up until the end of next year at the earliest. In the meantime, some developers have turned their attention to commercial and industrial real estate, while others are focused on acquiring land to hold.

The Press-Enterprise

And second, that such development will likely be sprawling, single-family oriented development, simply gobbling up the next available tract of land:

...Most developers acknowledge there are obstacles to overcome in sprawling development -- from getting water to all the new homes to alleviating extra traffic on the freeways -- nevertheless, they say, growth will occur.

The Press-Enterprise

We feel these two notions must begin to change, most notably at the local government levels. Simply put, local governments must begin decreasing sprawl-oriented development, especially in the residential arena, as well as increase zoning for future employment centers, else the region will predominantly consist of sprawled-out bedroom communities -- and long commutes:

Much of the attractiveness of southwest Riverside County comes from its position between Riverside and San Diego, said Randall Lewis, executive vice president of Upland-based Lewis Group of Cos., another developer involved in several projects in that portion of the county.

"That means it's got a big commuter market," he said.

The Press-Enterprise

Is being even more of a "commuter market" what we really should be planning -- much less aiming -- for?

Bottom line here is that it's a lot easier -- and cheaper -- to zone ahead for impending commercial/employment uses now rather than having to rezone/redevelop pockets of existing residential uses later (which some of the region's older cities may find, in some instances, is closer to reality than they realize).

Fortunately, there is some hope as Riverside County is working to tackle the jobs/housing imbalance where it counts -- in land-use matters. With its Riverside County Integrated Project (RCIP), Riverside is attempting to manage future growth by simultaneously planning for it at three interdisciplinary levels: environmental, residential/commercial and transportation.

The crux of the plan essentially trades pockets of density for increased open space. As such, the pockets of moderate density keeps development from sprawling as well as allowing for the potential for varied transportation options -- namely, transit (think Metrolink versus freeway). However, the RCIP applies to the unincorporated areas of Riverside County and not the already established cities, so it's not an all-inclusive solution. Moreover, will the county and developers reasonably follow the "blueprint for tomorrow" as outlined?

As previously stated in a recent post, we're not envisioning New York City densities, but limited pockets of greater intensity, particularly in the existing downtown areas of Riverside and San Bernardino and portions of Ontario. In essence, we're simply going to have to begin accepting more mid- and high-rise projects.


In other words, it's time to begin growing up, both figuratively and literally.

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Time to grow up

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If population projections released this past week come to fruition, Riverside County will be the second most-populous county in California by 2050, ranking behind only behemoth Los Angeles County.


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Downtown Riverside


2006
Piemonte
Ontario

The report, issued by the California Department of Finance -- the folks responsible for statewide fiscal planning and demographics -- says Riverside County can expect to house 4.7 million residents in about 40 years. This would move the county from its current spot as the fourth most-populous to the No. 2 spot, with only Los Angeles County's projected 13.1 million being larger (indeed, much larger). San Bernardino County is projected to remain the fifth most-populous with 3.7 million.

If recent history is a guide, however, one thing is certain -- we cannot simply ignore the potential numbers. Although there's no guarantee that all 2.5-plus million residents will actually arrive as projected, there's no doubt Riverside County will still absorb a large amount of future growth (as we've learned over the past 40 years). So too will San Bernardino County. Thus, ignoring the growth is not the answer -- but aggressively planning for it is.

Therefore, the question is, will local officials and residents alike simply allow development to continue sprawling outward? Or, will we begin to realize -- and accept -- the time has come to begin growing upward?

In our opinion, we do not see any other option but upward. We're not talking a forest of 50-story towers. Instead, we're envisioning pockets of mixed-use, higher density developments consisting of modest 15-, 20- and 30-story buildings, mostly in the existing downtowns of Riverside and San Bernardino and possibly even Ontario. Likewise, we hope to see smaller clusters consisting of 5-, 10- and 15-story buildings in some portions of Corona, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Moreno Valley, Temecula, Murrieta and even Redlands. Such would greatly increase future options in living, working, transportation and cultural amenities while still maintaining the viability of existing lifestyles. In essence, simply adding balance to the current landscape.

Census: 2050
California's 10 most-populous counties
(w/ 2000 ranking)

Indeed, Inland Southern California cannot continue spreading outward, if only for two major reasons -- lack of efficient, multi-modal transportation and the need for stronger, more diversified employment centers. It's becoming more evident that continuing current development patterns is simply too expensive -- everything from environmental concerns and infrastructure constraints (think: freeway gridlock) to overall quality of life.

Quite frankly, do we really want our children and their children to spend countless hours commuting to LA, Orange and San Diego counties as many of us and our parents before have done? Whether it be for employment or even entertainment purposes, we think the smart answer is an emphatic "No."

Thus, it's now time to grow up.

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Mixed-use projects picking up steam

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Activity has picked up recently at 2 of 3 mixed-use projects under development in downtown Riverside, which will be the first combined residential/commercial projects within the city in several decades.


2007
Raincross Promenade


2007
m sole'


Fox Plaza
MetroPacific

At Raincross Promenade, bounded by First, Third, Main and Market streets, site clearing is well under way. Situated across from the city's convention center at Raincross Square, the site had been home to assorted auto repair shops, used car lots (1, 2), an aging "rental" motel as well as a few dilapidated homes and a couple of empty parcels.

Planned by Los Angeles-based developer Mark Rubin, whom has developed various projects in Riverside, Raincross Promenade will add upwards of 250 urban-style residential units on 2-blocks that will essentially anchor the north end of the Main Street pedestrian mall. Although we have yet to see precise plans, our hope is the development is such that it "draws in" the existing pedestrian mall, which currently fizzles out at the convention center.

Directly across Market Street, where developer Alan Mruvka is planning a similar mixed-use project, foundation work has begun on 10 live/work units as part of the first phase of m sole'. Mruvka plans upwards of 125 urban-style residential units in later phases, stretching along Market Street from Third to First streets (essentially mirroring Raincross Promenade).

Thus far, m sole' is the only one of the three to begin actual construction, let alone offer pre-sales (an information studio is currently housed within the historic Sante Fe depot located near Mission Inn Avenue and Vine Street).

Yet to break ground is the third mixed-use development planned for downtown, this one the eagerly anticipated Fox Plaza located at Mission Inn and Market. Included in the multi-phase plans are upwards of 500 urban-style residential units, 65,000 square feet of retail and a 130-room, full-service hotel. Currently, the site is occupied by the Stalder Building and various parking lots.

Situated near the heart of the pedestrian mall adjacent to restaurants, shops, museums and downtown offices -- not to mention some of the city's best historic architecture -- Fox Plaza will offer one of the few truly urban experiences within Inland Southern California. The one downside will be the loss of the historic Stalder, which once housed the city's first fire station.

Although all three projects are within a few blocks of one another and each will indeed strengthen the city's re-emerging urban core, we feel Fox Plaza has the greatest potential. Moreover, we're glad to see alternative options being added to the area's predominantly single-family residential landscape. And, we feel no place is better for such options than within a genuinely historic downtown setting, one which needn't be "manufactured" nor "created" as is the case with many similar mixed-use developments around Southern California.

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Moving dirt at m sole'

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2007
Phase one grading


2006
Phase one info


m sole'

Grading began this past week on the first phase of the mixed-use m sole' project in downtown Riverside. When completed, m sole' will include up to 154 residential units and 7,000 square feet of ground-floor retail stretching along the west side of Market Street between Third and First streets.

Phase one consists of 10 live/work units slated for the northwest corner of Third and Market streets -- near the convention center and across from the relatively new CVS and Starbucks. The units range in size from 1600 to 1850 sq. ft. (with work spaces of 200 to 600 sq. ft.) and are priced at $645,000 ($495,000 for the living space and $150,000 for the work space).

Later phases of the project will include a 24-hour concierge desk, pool, clubhouse, fitness center as well as a wine cellar. Developer Alan Mruvka has opened an information studio located inside the historic Sante Fe depot located at the corner of Mission Inn and Sante Fe avenues.

The $50 million m sole' development marks the beginning of what city planners envision as the transformation of six blocks of Market Street between Mission Inn Avenue and First Street.

Two other mixed-use developments along this same strech of Market include Fox Plaza, which is scheduled to break ground shortly, and one planned by Los Angeles-based developer Mark Rubin.

Already in the works is the $30 million renovation of the historic Fox Theater, which the city hopes to have completed by late 2008. The 1929 theater, situated a block west of the historic Mission Inn, will be transformed into a 1,600 seat performing arts center.

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2007
Phase two site

2006
Phase one site

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Starbucks

2007
CVS

2007
Market Street



Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise


Out & About - 01/21/2007

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Correction: The name of the Stalder Building was misspelled when originally posted

Sunday, January 21, 2007 - If one visits downtown Riverside, as we did today, they will notice the historic Fox Theatre is now fenced off, awaiting a $30 million renovation. As one of the centerpieces of the $780 million Riverside Renaissance Initiative -- which outlines 25 years worth of citywide projects in about 5 -- the Fox will receive a complete makeover, transforming it into 1,600 seat performing arts center.


2007
Fox Theatre
Mission Inn at Market


Fox Plaza
MetroPacific

Opened in 1929, the Riverside Fox was once a favorite place for Hollywood studios to screen movies prior to their release. Studio executives felt the area better represented American audiences more so than patrons in Hollywood. One such sneak preview was "Gone With the Wind" in 1939.

Across the street from the Fox Theatre is the Stalder Building, which is actually three buildings unified into one facade via a 1926 renovation. A portion of the building once housed the city's first permanent fire station (1890s).

Over the years, the configuration of the building has been significantly altered, resulting in as many as 8 storefronts along Mission Inn Avenue plus a few along Market Street. Recently, it has become a mix of mostly small antique shops, including the popular Mr. Beasley's.

Come March 1st, however, the stores will be fully vacated in preparation for Fox Plaza, a mixed-use development planned for the site that includes residential and commercial with underground parking.

Expected to break ground in 2007, Fox Plaza is a $200 million development that when fully built will add 500 residential units and 65,000 square feet of retail space along two blocks of Market Street from Mission Inn Avenue to Fifth Street. Also included in the 2-phase plan is a 130 room, full-service hotel.

Though it's difficult to see one of Riverside's oldest buildings come down, we're eagerly anticipating Fox Plaza, which no doubt will be a significant and unique addition to downtown. If Riverside truly hopes to have a more balanced and livlier downtown, particularly after 5 p.m., developments such as Fox Plaza and m sole that include residential units are indeed necessary.

Flash: Out & About slideshow

Photo Gallery: Stalder Building

Updates


2007
Fenced-off Fox

2007
Stalder (left) and
Loring buildings

2007
Sign of the times



2007
Final Sale

2007
View west toward
Market Street



Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise, MetroPacific LLC


4 million and counting

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New figures released last week by California Department of Finance indicate that both San Bernardino and Riverside counties each passed the 2 million mark in population in 2006, making the two counties the 4th and 5th most-populous counties respectively in California. It also signals Inland Southern California has reached the 4 million mark in overall population, which places the region between San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont and Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale in national population rankings.

Although growth rates in the state as a whole have slowed recently (only 1.25% last year), the interior sections of the state -- and in particular Inland Southern California -- are indeed bucking the trend.

Overall, Riverside County was the only county in the state to rank in the top 5 in 3 demographic criteria -- overall size (5), numeric growth (1), and percentage growth (2).

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2006
Corona

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2006
Rancho Cucamonga

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2006
Riverside

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Victoria Gardens
Rancho Cucamonga

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2006
Galleria at Tyler
Riverside

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2006
Murrieta

Percentage wise, Riverside's growth rate of 4.14% between July 2005-06 was second only to the 4.42% of tiny Yuba County (total pop. 71,938 -- less than the 2006 numeric gain in Riverside County alone). San Bernardino County's growth rate of 2.13% was good for 14th, joining Riverside as the only counties in excess of 1 million residents in the top 15 (of 58 counties) in growth rates.

Numerically speaking, Riverside led all counties in California with an additional 79k residents. San Bernardino was third with 41k additional residents. Together, the increase of 121k for the 2 counties -- a.k.a. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario MSA -- comprised 26% of the total numeric increase (462k) statewide.

Since 2000, Riverside County has added 446k new residents while San Bernardino County has added 294k -- a total of nearly 750k, or nearly 25% of California's total population growth (3.3m) since the 2000 Census. As such, the region is on track to add at least 1 million residents between 2000-2009 -- or about the population of metropolitan Buffalo, NY.

The large increase in population has resulted in a commercial boom as well. Long an area of strong industrial/warehousing growth, the region has seen a recent surge in both retail and office space as the markets scramble to catch up with the rooftops:

Growth has been a theme for industrial, office and retail construction in Riverside and San Bernardino counties this year, and more of the same is to be expected in 2007, according to a new review and forecast by Grubb & Ellis Co.

Vacancy rates should be at record lows in the Inland region, the report says, and more square footage is under construction than ever before...

...Esmael Adibi, chief economist for Chapman University, said the Inland commercial real estate market has been excellent. There wasn't as much office construction as there should have been over the past decade, he said, and therefore growth over the last couple of years has been building up toward demand.

The Press-Enterprise

Since 2004, two major retail developments have opened (Victoria Gardens, Dos Lagos), one has been rebuilt (Riverside Plaza), one is currently undergoing a major expansion (Galleria at Tyler) and at least 3 others (Montclair Plaza, Temecula Promenade and Inland Center) are planning expansions. Likewise, the area immediately surrounding the Ontario Mills continues to be a draw for new retail.

In particular, Dain Fedora of Grubb & Ellis', points out the pent-up demand for high-end retail in the city of Riverside:

Riverside, he said, is likely to become a nexus for new high-end retail, because it boasts 90,000 households with incomes of at least $79,000.

The Press-Enterprise

Thus, we give a hearty welcome to the newcomers -- residents, retail and employers alike (and those yet to arrive).

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Previous


Population Boom

County July 2000 July 2001 July 2002 July 2003 July 2004 July 2005 July 2006 Gain
Riverside 1.558* 1.621 1.685 1.766 1.845 1.924 2.004
+63k +64k +81k +79k +79k +80k +446k
4.04% 3.96% 4.80% 4.45% 4.30% 4.14%
San Bernardino 1.722* 1.771 1.815 1.869 1.923 1.974 2.016
+49k +44k +54k +54k +51k +42k +294k
2.83% 2.50% 2.98% 2.88% 2.63% 2.13%
Combined 3.280* 3.392 3.500 3.635 3.768 3.898 4.020
+112k +108k +135k +133k +130k +122k +740k
* millions
Source: California Department of Finance (Dec. 2006)

Out & About - 09/24/2006

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Sunday, September 24, 2006 - A few photos and thoughts while browsing various new home developments in both Riverside and Corona.

The trip begins with the Alta Cresta development in southeastern Riverside. In most respects, Alta Cresta is the second major phase of the city's master-planned Orangecrest development, both of which actually began as a county projects prior to annexation into Riverside. New neighborhoods taking shape include those at Mission Ranch: Windsong, Hawksbury, Ardenwood and Turnbridge. Each tract offers large homes (2,600 - 4,304 sq. ft.) with many on large lots (10,000 sq. ft.). However, most also come with hefty price tags ($555,000 - $769,000).

Next up are new home developments in the La Sierra area of southwestern Riverside, namely those along the reconfigured Dufferin Avenue (now McAllister Parkway). Homes in the Bridgeport and Stone Harbor communities are also quite large, (3,200 - 5,100 sq. ft.) and likewise tend to also be on larger lots. The optional casita is a novel idea found at a Stone Harbor model. Prices range from $728,000 - $923,000. Similar homes are on the horizon at the Sierra Estates tract.

Finally, we end with two developments in southern Corona: Dos Lagos and The Retreat. Both are master-planned communities and both include championship golf courses (and championship golf course prices - upwards of $1,000,000 at The Retreat). In particular, we again found the optional "walk-up casita" at one of The Retreat models a nice touch and the elevation styles at Dos Lagos uniquely different.

Not to be overlooked, Dos Lagos also includes an outdoor lifestyle center -- The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos -- which is set to open October 6th. It will be Corona's first large-scale, mall-like development. Tenants include Coach, Talbots, Coldwater Creek, White House | Black Market, Banana Republic, Z Gallerie and Wood Ranch BBQ among others.

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Downtown SD part deux

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An excellent article regarding the recent residential building boom taking shape in downtown San Diego (a not too distant topic here on this very blog) appeared recently on the San Francisco Weekly Website.

Writer Matt Smith surmises that San Diego and San Diegans themselves are finally beginning to realize both the need and desirability of some forms of dense developments -- specifically, mixed-use residential towers. Moreover, he sees the recent wave of downtown development potentially acting as a savior for suburban Southern California:

"A mini-Manhattan sprouting at the edge of San Diego Bay offers hope as medicine for what ails California."

Without a doubt, San Diego area builders, buyers and bureacrats alike have all come to better accept such development, which again, is atypical within suburban-minded Southern California. Our hope is that such mixed-use developments will help bring balance back into overly suburban developmental patterns afflicting Southern California.

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2003
New residential high-rises
downtown San Diego

Much of downtown San Diego's recent high-rise residential boom came via a developer (Nat Bosa) who did much the same over the past 20 years in Vancouver, B.C., Canada:

Vancouver officials beckoned developers to fallow industrial yards near downtown ... Nat Bosa, an Italian immigrant who entered the building trade 30 years ago as a laborer, was among those who foresaw that Canadians would pay good money to live in such a place. "My prediction in 1990 was, in 10 years, it will be fashionable to live in downtown Vancouver, and in 15, it will be a great place to live," he says. "People now love it."

As prime, cheap land began to disappear from central Vancouver, Bosa and other Canadian developers looked south to San Diego and saw another abandoned, decrepit downtown ... "I felt it was just a fabulous place, with a great climate. I thought it was ready for what I call urbanization," Bosa says. "It was lacking on one big thing -- more people."

Sounds as though downtown Riverside could use a bit of Mr. Bosa's enthusiasm and ideas...

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Downtown San Diego

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sd-2003-conv-center-001a-400.jpg
2003
Convention Center

sd-2003-dt-006-a500.jpg
2003
New residential high-rises

sd-2003-dt-hortonplaza-006-500.jpg
2003
Horton Plaza

Just 90 miles to the south of Riverside is San Diego. Like much of Southern California, San Diego has found itself battling suburban sprawl for much of the past few decades. However, unlike its big brother to the north (Los Angeles), San Diego still remains an actual town with a highly recognizable central core -- a core which has become even stronger and more viable in the last decade. And, with the recent opening of Petco Park, downtown San Diego has officially turned the corner for good.

But it took more than the $500M investment of Petco Park. Downtown's recent transformation actually gained its first tangible foothold in the mid-1980s with Horton Plaza. After a few slow years, steam began picking up and by the 1990s, the historic Gaslamp District began to come alive with eateries, pubs and night spots.

Next, there was a new convention center, marina redevelopment and first-class hotels, which paved the way for a return to high-rise residential developments -- many of which have been built just in the last 3-5 years. Today, there are 25,000 residents living in downtown -- a significant number in suburban-oriented Southern California.

And now, there's Petco Park. Although to many, Petco Park is simply icing on the cake (and in some respects, it is), in reality the new ballpark for the San Diego Padres means so much more.

For starters, it keeps MLB in town. With the on-going threat of the NFL's Chargers leaving (and having already lost the NBA's Clippers in the 1980s), San Diego needed to retain at least one major-league franchise. Some may disagree, but being a "major-league" city is still important these days.

Likewise, this immensely large investment in downtown San Diego has once again proven to skeptics that downtown is indeed a place worth -- and necessary -- in retaining, redeveloping and reinvesting in (again, a seemingly simple concept lost on many suburban-minded Southern Californians).

With so much recent downtown development -- particularly on the residential front -- San Diego has separated itself from the rest of Southern California and moved closer to being a balanced city the likes of Portland and Seattle. In fact, although there is neither a Microsoft nor a Space Needle, some would say San Diego is more and more becoming 'Seattle South.'

Well, maybe.

Regardless, there's no denying that after decades of battling smaller suburban cores popping up outside of downtown (La Jolla, Mission Valley, Rancho Bernardo), the city's central core is stronger than ever and still remains the region's primary focus. This is one very distinct -- and important -- difference between Metro San Diego and Greater Los Angeles.

Again, how was it done? Reinventing, redeveloping and reinvesting in the central core. But above all, it took realizing the need to retain the central core.

So, if there's one city in Southern California in which the others could learn from, downtown San Diego indeed is it. (Are you listening Riverside? Anaheim? Los Angeles??)


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