460K sf distribution warehouse planned on legacy orange grove

First Industrial Realty Trust wins approvals while surrounding City of Redlands considers warehouse moratorium

First Industrial Realty Trust President and CEO Peter E. Baccile and site maps (San Bernardino County, First Industrial)
First Industrial Realty Trust President and CEO Peter E. Baccile and site maps (San Bernardino County, First Industrial)

A legacy orange grove surrounded by the City of Redlands in the Inland Empire could be replaced by a 462,000-square-foot warehouse.

While Redlands is considering a moratorium on logistics warehouses, a developer has filed plans to build one within an unincorporated area inside the city known as the “Donut Hole,” the San Bernardino Sun reported. The 1,000 acre region contains remnants of a historic citrus grove.

The San Bernardino County planning and airport commissions jointly approved a permit and environmental documents for the warehouse facility on 23 acres at the southeast corner of Alabama Street and Palmetto Avenue.

The Real Deal identified the developer as First Industrial Realty Trust, a publicly traded real estate investment trust based in Chicago with a market capitalization of about $8.3 billion.

The commercial developer specializes in regional distribution centers, and owns or is building 427 industrial buildings with 67.3 million square feet of space, according to a 2021 year-end report. It’s now wrapping up construction of a 303,000-square-foot warehouse in Perris, another municipality in the Inland Empire.

Its plans for the site inside Redlands include a 462,037-square foot industrial warehouse distribution center, with 10,000 square feet of office space, according to county documents. First Industrial will pay the county nearly $500,000 in transportation impact fees.

The First Pioneer Logistics Center project is estimated to cost $74 million, according to the SEC filing.

County Planning Commissioner Tom Haughey said the project looked fine, and asked if some of the landscaping could be orange trees.

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“I don’t see any major issues … other than the orange trees being eliminated,” he told colleagues. “It seems like there’s not too many more in the area from a historic standpoint.”

A 2019 field survey of the property identified an irrigation feature “within what remains of the orange grove, which includes the abandoned remnants of standpipes and small foundations that once supported either windmills or electrical pumps that transported water through the system.”

The environmental report concluded what was left of the irrigation system “would not individually qualify as eligible for the California Register of Historic Resources.”

In February, the Redlands Planning Commission recommended the City Council place a moratorium on new applications for warehouses while staff study the impact of logistics facilities on traffic, air quality and more. In April 2021, the city was home to 56 warehouses over 100,000 square feet.

[San Bernardino Sun] – Dana Bartholomew

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