2005 Archives

Razed, Rebuilt, Revived

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Update: Original opening date corrected from 1955 to 1956-57; renovation updated from mid-1980s to 1984

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Riverside Plaza - late 1950s
Riverside Plaza, LLC

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2005
Riverside Plaza

Can a reborn shopping center inject new life into an older suburban neighborhood? Indeed it can as witnessed with the recently rebuilt Riverside Plaza.

Opened in three stages in 1956-57 as an outdoor shopping plaza and enclosed during a 1984 renovation, Riverside's first mall-like center has now come full-circle with its rebirth as an outdoor plaza once again.

As part of the rebuild, an assortment of new shops and eateries have planted roots with still more to come in a second phase currently under construction ("The Orchard Shops"). The only portion left from previous incarnations is the 1957 Harris-Gottschalks department store, itself receiving a complete makeover.

Also new to the mix is the addition of a Borders Books & Music and a 16-screen Regal Cinemas, which combined with the main street-like atmosphere and new eateries -- including California Pizza Kitchen, Ooka Japanese Restaurant, Citrus City Grille -- makes the new Plaza much more of a dining and entertainment destination than before. Oh, and we can't forget about the relocated Trader Joe's, which in reality is only about 25 yards from where it previously stood.

Likewise, adding extra life is the regularly-held events involving local schools and community organizations as well as "holiday flavoring" with a bit of fireworks during Fourth of July and a dash of snow during Christmastime.

More importantly, however, is that with the revival has come a renewed sense of place and reinvigoration within the surrounding Magnolia Center neighborhood, as highlighted in a recent article in the Los Angeles Times: Plaza revival breathes new life into Magnolia Center.

Slideshow: Rebirthing Riverside Plaza

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Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Plaza, The Press-Enterprise, Los Angeles Times

Central City Mall

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2000
Harris'

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2001
Montgomery Ward

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2003
J.C. Penney

It appears life as a mall is about to end for downtown San Bernardino's Carousel Mall, a.k.a. Central City Mall. A buyer has agreed to take control of the 72-acre property with plans for replacing the aging retail center with a more vibrant mix of condos, apartments, offices and shops.

Opened in 1972, Central City Mall was one of Inland Southern California's first large, indoor shopping centers. At its peak in the mid-1980s, the center boasted approximately 800,000 square feet of retail space with 3 primary anchor tenants: Harris', J.C. Penney and Montgomery Ward. More importantly, unlike nearly all malls of its day (and many years to come), it was located in the heart of downtown.

However, after a steady decline that began in the early 1990s and culminated with the closures of both Montgomery Ward and Harris' earlier this decade, today's Carousel Mall boasts no anchor tenants and contains only a small mix of retailers and a few non-retail businesses.

Although it will be difficult to see the downtown mall demolished, it's quite obvious the best use for the property is indeed something other than an empty indoor shopping center. The mall simply cannot compete with the newer and larger malls (Victoria Gardens, Ontario Mills, etc.) that have appeared within the past decade on the more affluent edges of the mall's primary market base.

And, with today's growing acceptance of true mixed-used developments (residences, retail and offices), the mall's large parcel in the center of downtown offers San Bernardino some of the best chances at reinvigorating its central core with a strong daily -- and nightly -- presence once again.


Office, retail picks up

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Three recently released reports by commercial real estate brokerage CB Richard Ellis Inc. says that, although housing remains big within Inland Southern California, both the commercial and industrial sectors are doing brisk business as well. All together, the reports indicate 34 million square feet of on-going construction activity in retail, office and industrial projects within the two-county region.

Although there's no real surprise in the industrial sector numbers, probably the most encouraging news is the uptick in both the retail and office sectors, where the region has tended to lag behind most areas of Greater Los Angeles. But with the continued influx of new residents (approx. 500,000 since 2000), both sectors are finally beginning to catch up with the rapid residential growth.

Moreover, the office market is even strong enough for the building of speculative projects -- something not seen in these parts in great numbers since the late 1980s.

Helping to fuel the market are the region's rising population and reputation for being business friendly. The population of the two counties will jump about 50 percent between 2000 and 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Inc. Magazine last year rated the region the second best for doing business behind only Atlanta because of its large and sustained job growth.
The Press-Enterprise


3.8 million and counting

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According to the latest population estimates just released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Inland Southern California once again led the state in population growth as both Riverside and San Bernardino counties ranked in the top 5 in the number of new residents. Together, the two counties added nearly 150,000 residents between July 2003 and July 2004, giving the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario PMSA a total population of 3.79 million (a 150% increase since 1980).

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Growing counties
Los Angeles Times

Numerically speaking, Riverside County was 2nd in the nation in new residents added (89,128) while San Bernardino County ranked 5th (58,936). Topping the list -- which is typically dominated by counties with large populations -- was Maricopa County (Phoenix) with 112,233 new residents. Los Angeles ranked 3rd (77,357) while Clark County (Las Vegas) was 4th (75,285).

Percentage-wise, Florida dominated with 14 counties placing among the Top 100 fastest-growing counties in the U.S. With a growth rate of 5%, Riverside County ranked 39th, leading all large counties (1 million plus population) nationwide in percentage gains. Nevada's Clark County (4.8%) was the only other large county to make the list, which is typically dominated by counties with small population bases.

2004 County Population Estimates
San Bernardino County - 1,921,131
Riverside County - 1,871,950

Related


Area demographics rising

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Since 1980, Inland Southern California's population has more than doubled from 1.5 million residents to 3.6 million (Census - 2003 county estimates). If ranked separately, it would be country's 13th most-populous region (sandwiched between Miami and Seattle metro areas).

Along with such phenomenal growth has come large jumps in other demographic stats, such as job growth, median income, taxable sales, and of course, median home prices.

Though the region still lags a bit in a few key aspects relative to some areas of Greater Los Angeles, the new demographics beginning to rise locally are likely to surprise many Southern Californians when compared with better-known cities of Los Angeles and Orange counties:

According to the 2000 Census, the median income (one-half of families above and below) of Chino Hills was $78,374. Amazingly, the Census found that the median income of Beverly Hills was just $70,945 and Laguna Beach was only $75,808. Not only was the income of Chino Hills much higher, so was its population: 76,401 versus 35,701 in Beverly Hills and 24,751 in Laguna Beach.
The Business Press

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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