Riverside Roundup – 03/20/2009

Familiar name eyeing Gottschalks

Riverside Plaza

In January, Fresno-based Gottschalks filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, raising questions on what might come of the chain’s 58 department stores spread over six states. Seven of those stores are located at malls within Inland Southern California, including Riverside Plaza.
Less than two weeks before a March 30 bankruptcy deadline, a Press-Enterprise article reports that Spanish retailer El Corte Ingles is one of three potential parties interested in bidding for Gottschalks. The Spanish company has Inland ties dating back to its 1983 purchase of San Bernardino-based Harris’ department store, which it sold to Gottschalks in 1998. (It remains one of Gottschalks major stockholders and even retains ownership over two former Harris’ locations in San Bernardino and Moreno Valley.)
If a purchaser fails to materialize before the deadline, liquidation sales could begin as soon as April 3.


Fleetwood looking for buyer

Fleetwood Enterprises

Another California company struggling in today’s dire economy, this one with even closer ties, is Riverside-based Fleetwood Enterprises. The company, which makes recreational vehicles and manufactured housing, filed for bankruptcy protection last week. The 59-year-old company is currently seeking a buyer.
Once the dominant player in the RV industry, Fleetwood has struggled the past several years under the weight of debt, most of which was accumulated during a now failed attempt to diversify into the retailing arm of manufactured housing.
Fleetwood’s bankruptcy doesn’t necessarily spell the end of the company (nor even the name itself), but it could deal a significant blow to the Inland region’s RV industry, most of which appeared following Fleetwood’s arrival in Riverside in 1963.

City Council agrees with plan to replace downtown library

Central Library

Last month, the Riverside Board of Library Trustees brought forth a new proposal aimed at demolishing the current Central Library and replacing it with a new, larger building. Last week, the Riverside City Council approved the proposal, which is part of the on-going efforts of expanding and upgrading the downtown library and two nearby civic buildings (Riverside Metropolitan Museum and Riverside Municipal Auditorium).
Although we certainly would like to see all three buildings renovated and both the library and museum expanded, we are not in favor (one | two | three) of the proposal to demolish the current library. We feel knocking it down is simply unnecessary as the building, one of the best examples of mid-century, New Formalism architecture in the Inland region, is less than 45 years old. In our opinion, the $80 million cost of the “expanded” proposal — nearly double the previous $45 million “basic” proposal — would be better spent sensibly renovating the current building, and more importantly, upgrading the current services and staffing. (How about seriously beginning the process of digital archiving, in particular, the thousands of aging local history documents?)
The new proposal still has major obstacles to clear, namely the extra funding that will be required. Although some money from previously stalled plans is likely to still be available as part of the current Riverside Renaissance, this new proposal raises the cost of the projects to $80 million — $55 million of which the city says still needs to be found. As such, a voter-approved bond measure paid by parcel taxes would likely be necessary.

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One Comment

  1. Well that didn’t take too long at all. Gottschalks is turning into a Forever 21… make that a very large Forever 21.

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