News Article | 11/2/2007

Rialto’s quest

Rialto’s quest to upgrade its image and its economy ran into a little trouble this year as the housing market slowed down.

But the region’s growth and four new miles of freeway frontage along the 210 Freeway make it a crucial time for the city.

“I do think that we have a great potential for being just a great city to live in,” Councilwoman Winnie Hanson said of the city’s future.

Plans for Renaissance Rialto, a 1,500-acre master-planned development that would replace Rialto’s airport along the 210 Freeway, changed to replace some of the housing with industrial.

By the end of September, the developer, a partnership between the Lewis Group and Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood, were floating a plan that included a shopping center anchored by Target, 2,000 homes, a school, parks and industrial facilities.

Another project that was supposed to be a mix of commercial and housing at Pepper Avenue and the 210 fell apart, partly because of the housing market, partly because the developers had trouble putting together a workable plan. Now the city will have to extend Pepper Avenue to the 210 itself.

The largest Rialto housing project, however, is planned for the Lytle Creek area. The market may have slowed it down and affected some specifics, but it’s still moving forward, said Mike Story, Rialto’s development services director.

The Lytle project should have 5,000 to 7,000 homes, schools and a small commercial center.

“We`re probably actually going to see some type of a land use plan by the end of the year,” Story said.

Land on the city’s south end that was supposed to be the site of more than 720 homes could become a 3-million-square foot distribution and manufacturing area, Story said.

The Oakmont Industrial Group bought the land from Young Homes even after Young had the City Council’s approval for the project.

The Redevelopment Agency will continue to invest money in renovating blighted neighborhoods and expand the roughly 150-unit redevelopment project at Willow Avenue and Winchester Drive, which was one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods.

The agency is also developing plans to bring new life to the city’s downtown by bringing in more housing and business and by expanding the Metrolink parking lot.

The city also is in the early stages of developing plans to improve its own Route 66 corridor – Foothill Boulevard – by improving the street, adding landscaping, and deciding what mix of residential and commercial establishments would work well there, Story said.

In the next 20 years, Rialto will fill its open land and start moving toward denser, more urban projects, Story said. He also hopes the city can attract some of the corporate and office jobs moving to the region.

Hanson said Rialto will probably always be a bedroom community at heart.

“I don’t see us becoming a great, big retail force in the area. I do see us becoming a lot more stable.”