Redlands zombie mall gets OK for retail-housing village

1970s-era downtown center will give way to 700 apartments, condos to go with new shops and restaurants

Village Partners' J. Donald Henry and Michael Morris; rendering of Redlands Mall project (City of Redlands, Village Partners)
Village Partners' J. Donald Henry and Michael Morris; rendering of Redlands Mall project (City of Redlands, Village Partners)

One more zombie mall bites the dust for mixed-use housing, the latest case coming in the Inland Empire city of Redlands.

The 45-year-old Redlands Mall will soon be razed for 700 apartments and condominiums, along with outdoor village shops, restaurants and office space on Redlands Boulevard at Orange Street, the San Bernardino Sun Reported. The derelict mall had been closed since 2010.

Groundbreaking and demolition could begin next year.

The conversion of the indoor shopping mall would follow similar mall-to-housing developments across Southern California and the U.S. A quarter of America’s roughly 1,000 malls, distressed by changing shopping habits, are expected to close by 2025.

The Redlands City Council and Planning Commission unanimously approved replacing the 12-acre mall, built in 1973 with 173,000 square feet of retail space, with a four-story mixed use State Street Village.

The new village, to be developed by Newport Beach-based Village Partners, would include five buildings containing up to 700 apartments and condominiums, more than 12,300 square feet of offices, and nearly 72,000-square-feet of mostly ground-floor shops and restaurants.

The State Street Village would also include a privately owned plaza, shade trees, street trees and improved walkways for pedestrians.

A five-level parking structure inside one of the buildings would fit nearly 700 cars, while two underground lots would contain 640 more.

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A 14,500-square-foot building across Citrus Avenue from the village project would house the mall’s last tenant, CVS Pharmacy.

Michael Morris, a principal with developer Village Partners, said the mall conversion could bring as many as 2,400 construction and recurring local jobs, with a payroll of nearly $20 million. Another $13 million in impact and permit fees could be paid to local government agencies.

“When this project is built over 1,200 new residents will be living, working, shopping, and recreating in downtown Redlands,” Morris said.

The Redlands Mall had six tenants when it closed in September 2010 after Gottschalks, its anchor department store, filed for bankruptcy and locked its doors.

Brixton Capital, based in Solana Beach, bought the mall in 2014 from Howard Hughes Corp. for an undisclosed price, intending to build a mixed-use development. It never submitted plans to the city. Its previous owners, Howard Hughes and General Growth Properties, never did either.

Village Partners, which bought the abandoned mall from Brixton in 2019 for an undisclosed sum, has a history of mixed-use projects in urban infill areas.

Its portfolio includes mixed-use developments in Hollywood, Little Tokyo, Westwood, Claremont and a 350-unit project in Montclair.

[San Bernardino Sun] – Dana Bartholomew

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