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New Infrastructure Ushers in a New Retail Era for San Bernardino County | GlobeSt

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Thought Leader Presented by County of San Bernardino

Consumer demand will increase when the nation’s biggest county adds a major new rail project to the frothy mix of development underway.

The intersection of emerging opportunity and sustainable progress is a good place for retailers. Such a combination is happening in San Bernardino County, California’s largest county by size and the nation’s 15th-most populous. The Inland Empire stronghold will bolster its access and appeal with a first-of-its-kind transportation project and a nearly 10,000-acre master plan development.

“We talk about San Bernardino County’s affordability and for good reason, but I think this chapter of our development will really emphasize the broad growth and economic diversification taking place across the unincorporated areas of the County and all 24 cities,” says Derek Armstrong, director of the San Bernardino County Economic Development Department.

Fast & Forward Development

Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino County’s fourth-most populous city, will serve as the end point for the country’s first high-speed rail link between Las Vegas and Southern California, developed by Brightline West. Called Cucamonga Station, this is where commuters can connect via Metrolink rail to Los Angeles and Ontario International Airport – and to points throughout the world.

“All in one place, the multi-modal transportation hub and enhancements will further elevate the region as a travel and economic destination,” Armstrong says. “There is great excitement about Cucamonga Station.” 

A new mixed-use development called The Resort, located adjacent to the planned transit-oriented district Cucamonga Station, will consist of 3,450 residences both for sale and lease along with 220,000 square feet of neighborhood-servicing retail space. Spanning 160 acres, The Resort aims to provide a unique and engaging experience, offering convenience, activities, public spaces, and services within 0.5 miles of Cucamonga Station. Another project, the “Epicenter Master Plan,” was approved by the Rancho Cucamonga City Council at the end of 2023. This project will revitalize the 56 acres surrounding the minor league baseball-anchored Epicenter Sports Complex, renewing, and reenergizing the area.

In the High Desert city of Hesperia, the Silverwood master-planned community developed by DMB Development, will span 9,366 acres, encompassing 15,633 housing units and 700,000 square feet of commercial space. The transformative project will also include nearly 5,000 acres of open space featuring 387 acres of parks and 166 miles of paths, which connect to the famed Pacific Crest Trail.  Phase 1 is under construction and will bring approximately 2,000 homes to the community, with model homes expected by early 2025.

“Call it massive or even mega, Silverwood is projected to grow the city of Hesperia’s population by 50,000 people over the next 15 to 20 years,” Armstrong says. “It’s really designed to be a walkable community with town squares and stores. The abundance of open space is a beautiful feature that a lot of people really look for when moving to a new community.”

Enduring Demand

San Bernardino County experienced an uptick in retail rents and historically low vacancy rates below 6% at the end of 2023. At least six retail projects exceeding 50,000 square feet are scheduled to be delivered this year. 

The county’s supply chain, manufacturing and healthcare industry clusters are driving the demand to which retailers are attracted. Maersk, a global logistics and shipping leader, recently moved into 1.2 million square feet of industrial space in Hesperia. Also, the Coca-Cola bottling facility in Rancho Cucamonga is undergoing a $500 million upgrade.

“I believe as San Bernardino County moves forward, with our population growth, as one of the more affordable options in the region for families that are looking to start and grow, we’ll see the high demand for retail and its growth trend remain strong as well,” Armstrong says. “The retail industry is poised to continue to thrive.”

Visit the San Bernardino County at ICSC Las Vegas, Central Hall booth 3077K.

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