2004 - Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga (RXSQ)

Insta Main Street

So, what do you do if your suburban community of 150,000 residents suddenly realizes it has no downtown? No central business district? No Main Street?

Easy, you find a large chunk of undeveloped land, begin planning a traditional enclosed mall, wait out a recession, hire one of the nation’s largest mall builders, wait some more (and discover that both shopping habits and local demographics have changed — for the better, mind you), gather a stable of “new urbanism” architects whom envision a downtown shopping district, entice high-end retailers, spend $285 million — and voila! — insta downtown.

Clearly, Victoria Gardens aspires to be much more than a mall. Here, among young sycamore trees and stores selling lavender candles and salted pretzels, is an insta-downtown for a city born of sprawl. Hints of local history mix with metered streetside parking, Pottery Barn and a planned cultural center.

Riverside Press-Enterprise – October 24, 2004

Rancho Cucamonga’s Victoria Gardens is the latest outdoor “lifestyle & shopping” center built in Southern California. And, in those terms, it certainly doesn’t disappoint. A little bit of Irvine Spectrum, a touch of Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade and just a sliver of downtown Riverside’s Main Street pedestrian mall all wrapped up into a shiny faux, aged-and-grained, quasi main street.

But a downtown it is not.

However, with that said, we still like it. Sure, it’s a bit kitschy, even whimsical, but that’s what makes it both fun and interesting.

The 12-block, 1.3 million square feet of retail spaces (filled with the likes of Macy’s, Robinson’s-May, Pottery Barn, Coldwater Creek, Apple Store, Coach, Yard House, etc.) are patterned into what can best be described as a form of Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A. — albeit, with muted colors and tones.

The only real problem lies in that it tries a bit too hard to be what it really is not — “Main Street, Rancho Cucamonga.” But with the planned additions of a library, performing arts/cultural center, offices, townhomes and condos, this may in fact change a bit over the next few years — or decades.


  • Inland Valley Daily Bulletin – Victoria Gardens a shoppers’ Shangri-La
  • Riverside Press-Enterprise – High-end Inland mall opens (Oct. 29) | Sprawl gets a downtown (Oct. 24)
  • Los Angeles Times – Center for Rancho Cucamonga (Oct. 27)
  • Victoria Gardens

Sources: Riverside Press-Enterprise (PE-20041024, PE-20041029), Los Angeles Times (LAT-20041027)

2024 PAGE UPDATE: Added newspaper citation/insert; removed outdated links to newspaper articles.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.