Region’s retail market still expanding

Since 2004, Inland Southern California has seen an influx of large-scale retail developments, redevelopments and expansions. From new malls in Rancho Cucamonga (Victoria Gardens) and Corona (The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos), expansions (Galleria at Tyler) and revivals (Riverside Plaza) in Riverside, continuing growth within the periphery of Ontario Mills, to a number of “power centers” popping up throughout the region, retailers have been busy playing catch-up to the area’s pent-up demand.

And although the recent housing slowdown will no doubt affect future growth, the region’s fast-rising demographics and tremendous population growth — 800,000+ since the 2000 Census — means more expansion looms on the immediate horizon.

Montclair Plaza renovation

The Shoppes at Chino Hills
Altoon + Porter

Garrett Ranch site plan
Garrett Group, LLC

In Montclair, General Growth Properties has begun the early phases of a major renovation on the 40-year-old Montclair Plaza, which opened as a single-level mall in 1968 (a 1985 expansion added a second level of shops and department stores for Nordstrom and Sears). The latest renovation will see the mall’s utilitarian interior softened with the addition of colorful accents and a mixture of glass panels, partial ceilings, and stone textures.

Also in the works is the demolition of the former Macy’s, which is expected to be replaced during later phases with an outdoor “lifestyle” component. The Macy’s building opened along with the mall in 1968 as The Broadway but has been vacant since 2006 following the merger with Robinson’s-May (resulting in Macy’s relocating within the former Robinson’s-May building).

Completion of the interior renovation at the 1.35 million sq. ft. mall is expected by November.

Down the road in Riverside County, Forest City Development announced plans recently for an outdoor “lifestyle” component at the 1 million sq. ft. Promenade Mall in Temecula, which opened in October 1999. The 126,000 sq. ft. expansion will take place on the mall’s southern side and includes two multi-level parking structures.

The expansion will bring long-overdue stores from Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn and Coldwater Creek, signaling the continued “catch-up” mode within the region’s retail market. Also included will be the region’s fourth Yard House restaurant, following those in Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, and Chino Hills (opening Spring 2008).

The expansion is expected to be completed in early 2009.

Elsewhere across the region, construction continues on The Shoppes at Chino Hills, a 400,000 sq. ft. lifestyle/civic center taking shape at Grand and Peyton avenues. Retailers will include Barnes & Noble, Victoria’s Secret, H&M, Banana Republic, Trader Joe’s, and the aforementioned Yard House.

A Spring 2008 opening is planned.

Still in the early stages are plans for a $200 million mall along Highway 74 in western Hemet. Dubbed Garrett Ranch, the 1 million sq. ft. lifestyle/power center will help fill the retail void in fast-growing central Riverside County. Temecula-based Garrett Group LLC, developers of the proposed mall, are seeking financing for the 200 acre project.

Finally, there has been at least one major setback in the region’s large-scale retail projects. After years of slow decline, downtown San Bernardino’s Carousel Mall is on the verge of vacancy. Once a vibrant mall located in the heart of the city’s downtown core, the Victor Gruen-designed mall has been steadily losing retail tenants since the closing of the flagship Harris’ department store in 2000 (with both Montgomery Ward and J.C. Penney leaving shortly thereafter).

Miami-based LNR Property Corporation, which bought most of the struggling mall in Feb. 2006, floated plans of redeveloping their portion of the mall into a mixture of retail, residential, and office uses. Earlier this month, however, LNR sold their Carousel holdings to a small Southern California-based developer for $23.5 million. New owners — M & D Properties — say plans for their portion of the mall, which does not include either the J.C. Penney or historic Harris’ Co. buildings, are under development.


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