2002 – The Main Street pedestrian mall in downtown Riverside (RXSQ)

Reshaping downtown Riverside

A handful of plans currently in the works will reshape downtown Riverside and, for the first time in a long time, include serious mixed-use development with an emphasis toward residential uses. The projects, which include a mix of condos, townhomes, lofts, commercial, and arts uses are expected to begin taking shape throughout 2006. Each will greatly add to the vibrancy of Riverside’s historic core — one of the few genuinely historic downtowns in Southern California.

The city is using just $10 million in Redevelopment Agency money to spur an estimated $300 million in projects, said Councilman Dom Betro, whose ward includes downtown.

Riverside Press-Enterprise – December 17, 2005

Probably the most anticipated of the projects will be a renovated Fox Theater along with a mixed-use companion, Fox Plaza. The former will bring back to life a long-missing civic arts theater while the latter is the largest of the various projects planned, combining condos, lofts, a small 150-room hotel, plus other commercial uses. The project takes in both sides of a two-block portion of Market Street between Fifth Street and Mission Inn Avenue.

Also eagerly anticipated are two similar residential projects backed by former HUD secretary Henry Cisneros’ CityView corporation, national builder Lennar, and Century City-based developer Mark Rubin (builder of Riverside’s Mission Grove). Both projects envision condos and townhomes along Market and Main streets between First and Third streets. Nearby, a SavOn is being built with what’s being called a mini-Albertson’s within.

With the recent residential transformation of downtown San Diego, and on a much lesser scale, downtowns in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Long Beach, and Glendale, it’s high time such mixed-use development again finds its way to downtown Riverside, a locale that easily rivals — albeit on a smaller scale — most of the aforementioned downtowns.

Without a doubt, it’s only a matter of time before such projects do in fact begin to take shape in downtown Riverside, though admittedly, it seems to be taking much longer than it should. This likely highlights the lack of maturity of the local market with regards to mixed-use development. But, as home builders have known for years and commercial builders have recently rediscovered, Inland Southern California offers Greater Los Angeles’ largest untapped market for future, mixed-use developments. Nowhere else will this be more evident than in western Riverside County, wherein the County’s long-range general plan (AKA Riverside County Integrated Plan) eyes “transit villages” as the core for future development.

Indeed, most planners agree that some form of transit oriented development (TOD) is one of the best potential solutions to help alleviate America’s overburdened freeways that are choking our suburban expanses. And Riverside County is at least attempting to plan for the possibility for such TOD developments — before it’s too late.


  • Riverside Press-Enterprise – Bright outlook: Historic core in Riverside making room for more housing, offices (Dec. 17)

Sources: Riverside Press-Enterprise (PE-20051217)

2024 PAGE UPDATE: Added newspaper citation/insert; removed outdated links to newspaper article and websites; added minor context/clarification.

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