New restaurant and retail buildings coming to Redlands – San Bernardino Sun

The area around the Santa Fe Depot in Redlands is changing: trains are rumbling down the tracks again, and the sound of construction is in the air.

In the last five years, more than a dozen projects within 1,500-feet of the two downtown rail platforms have either been completed or are in development.

And this week, the Planning Commission gave the OK to two more buildings — bringing the total to 9 new structures approved since 2019. The new restaurant and retail buildings, dubbed the Packing House East project, will go in at the southwest corner of Orange Street and Al Harris Lane. The Tuesday, March 22, vote was 5-0 with commissioners Steven Frasher and Matt Endsley absent.

The spurt of construction began five years ago with the first phase of the Packing House District shopping center on Eureka Street. Followed by the second phase, the Depot and two buildings on Oriental Avenue were renovated, and a Starbucks popped up on Stuart Avenue.

Within a few blocks the developer for the new Packing House East project is building a 4-level parking garage and a 3-story retail/office/restaurant building on Stuart, and two more small retail buildings north of Al Harris Lane.

The Redlands Public Market adaptive reuse of an old packing house OK’d a few years ago is still in the works, and three projects that could bring almost 1,000 apartment units downtown have been proposed. The first of those, a mixed-use proposal for up to 722 apartments on the Redlands Mall site, could come before the Planning Commission in April.

Maps from the early 1900s show the area around the rail line used to be home to fruit packing houses, the city’s Chinese and Mexican settlements, and warehouses, most of which no longer exist.

Almost all of the new development has gone in on empty lots, although two of the proposed housing projects would go at the sites of current buildings, if approved.

Railroad tracks go through downtown Redlands in this 2017 file photo. More than a dozen projects in a 1,500-foot radius have been completed or have started the development process since then. (File photo by Rachel Luna, Redlands Daily Facts/SCNG)

The newest project given the green light Tuesday, is to build a 7,973-square-foot restaurant and a 3,839-square-foot retail building. It will also improve the existing FedEx Office building, all with a packing house theme.

A previous proposal to put retail shops and a bank on the site was approved in 2018 but never moved forward.

The design theme will be similar to the first two phases of the Packing House District shopping center, the parking structure and other buildings under construction. The design includes brick veneer, shed-style roofs and metal awnings.

Emily Elliott, a project planner for the city, said 97 new trees will also be planted — sycamores along the streets and coast live oak among the other trees in the parking lot. Twenty-one existing trees on the property will be kept in place.

She also noted the building heights, which will be below 30 feet.

“This low profile reduces sight line competition with the neighboring Depot and Chamber of Commerce buildings and it’s generally consistent with other development in the downtown area,” Elliott told commissioners.

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