The Inland Empire has been slow to recover from the Great Recession.
But by all appearances, the economic downturn is over in Redlands.
The east San Bernardino Valley city is experiencing a growth spurt:
- The amazingly successful Citrus Plaza shopping center has broken ground for Phase 2, which will more than double its size.
- City leaders are anxiously awaiting plans from the new owners of the downtown Redlands Mall, fully expecting a rebirth for the moribund center.
- Krikorian Premier Theatres, widely credited with infusing vibrancy into the small city’s downtown when it opened in 1997, has announced plans to expand and add luxury offerings.
- Amazon will occupy a new “fulfillment center” in the northwest part of the city and bring several hundred jobs with it.
- And a three-story, 306-unit apartment complex is under construction adjacent to the JCPenney’s shopping center, across busy Alabama Street from Citrus Plaza.
“We have been discovered – finally,” said Kathie Thurston, executive director of the Redlands Chamber of Commerce. “And even better, we are being well-managed.”
The growth is not a rampant hodgepodge of ill-conceived projects that don’t fit together, she said. It’s planned and well thought-out.
For example Phase 2, or Mountain Grove at Citrus Plaza, will grow pretty much as planned more than a decade ago: It will add Nordstrom Rack, Gap, Banana Republic, T.J. Maxx, HomeGoods, Hobby Lobby, Tilly’s skate/surf shop and 24 Hour Fitness.
Citrus Plaza and Mountain Grove are in the Donut Hole, a thriving commercial area in an unincorporated pocket surrounded by the city. Redlands receives 90 percent of the sales-tax revenue under an agreement with the county in which the city provides police, fire, water and sewer services.
The deal has been very lucrative for the city. Redlands received nearly $2.7 million in sales tax from the Donut Hole in the fiscal year that ended June 30, city spokesman Carl Baker said.
The agreement lasts until 2028, unless the city annexes the Donut Hole sooner, county spokesman David Wert said.
Citrus Plaza opened in 2003 with Target, Barnes & Noble, Bev Mo, Petco, Dress Barn, Red Robin, Macaroni Grill – and more Starbucks than you can shake a stick at.
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