News Article | 4/13/2004

Grocer, Agency To Formalize Plan

Riverside Press Enterprise04/13/04

GROCER, AGENCY TO FORMALIZE PLAN STATER BROS.: The firm’s new headquarters will be at the former Norton air base.

By PHIL PITCHFORD / The Press-EnterpriseRoughly a month after Stater Bros. Markets announced its intention to build a new corporate headquarters and distribution center at the former Norton Air Force Base, the company is expected to reach a formal agreement this week with the agency that oversees development at the site.The proposed agreement calls for the company to buy from the Inland Valley Development Agency much of the land the grocery company needs to build the 161-acre project, expected to be worth about $175million. The company will be required to acquire land not owned by the agency on its own, although Stater Bros. will be able to ask the agency to condemn property on its behalf if owners refuse to sell. The agency will consider the proposed agreement at its meeting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at Loma Linda City Hall. The agency also will conduct a public hearing on the proposal. Stater Bros. would agree to acquire any land not owned by the development agency for the project; relocate all tenants and business owners; formally commit to building the headquarters, warehouse and distribution center buildings; comply with prevailing wage requirements in accordance with state law; and obtain all building permits required by the city of San Bernardino.The agreement calls for the development agency, which owns about 91 acres of the site, to acquire another 46.6 acres of land controlled by the San Bernardino International Airport Authority for use by Stater Bros. The development agency and the airport agency, which have many of the same board members, are seeking approval from federal authorities to swap 46.6 acres of development agency land for airport land so that the airport land can be developed by Stater Bros. The development agency also would agree to pledge increased property taxes at the site toward the reimbursement of some of Stater Bros.’ redevelopment costs, including demolition of existing structures and the cost of some infrastructure needs, such as building roads, sewers and utilities.The agreement also references a separate agreement between Stater Bros. and Hillwood, the master developer of the former base that has a long-term agreement with the development agency to do this kind of work.Because Stater Bros. will need about 30 percent of the land included in a separate development agreement the agency already has with Hillwood, the grocery company agreed to assume about 30 percent of the costs that Hillwood incurs as master developer at the site. An estimated dollar figure was not immediately available. The agreement also addresses existing occupants of the land. The development agency leases land and/or buildings to 14 tenants, almost all of which have month-to-month leases or leases that expire within the next four months, according to the agreement. Stater Bros. would be required to obtain one other lease that includes an option to buy and three buildings that IVDA had previously sold to private parties.If Stater Bros. is unable to acquire some of the land needed for the project, the agency agrees to consider using its power of eminent domain to acquire the property from reluctant sellers, although the proposed agreement does not bind the agency to use such power for the company. Legislation soon will be introduced in Congress to allow land now used by the U.S. Forest Service to be transferred to the agency for use by Stater Bros. In return, the agency would sign a long-term lease with the forest service to use a different piece of land at the airport.