First major transit center building

The parking structure off Stuart Street is the first major building under construction as part of the Redlands transit villages.

The next phase of the Transit Villages Specific Plan is up for Redlands residents to review. A Notice of Preparation (NOP), including an Initial Study for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), was posted to the City of Redlands website on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

According to Planning Manager Brian Foote, the public review/comment period began on Sept. 1 and will end on Thursday, Sept. 30. The purpose of the NOP is to solicit comments about the scope and content of the environmental information included in the EIR.

The draft EIR document has not been prepared and is scheduled for completion over the next few months. After the draft EIR has been completed and published, it will be subject to a 45-day public review/comment period. The Transit Villages area covers about 947 acres (1.48 miles) with three villages, one at New York Street/Esri, one downtown and one at the University of Redlands.

The New York/Esri Village would implement mixed-use development on the vacant and underutilized parcels and provide tree-lined streets and sidewalks for pedestrian access to the station, Esri campus and Downtown Village area. Infill development in the area would reduce the scale of the existing area to provide consistency in scale with the Downtown Transit Village and surrounding pre-World War II neighborhoods.

Plans include bike lanes installed on New York Street and new street trees planted between on-street parallel parking spaces. Improvements to Redlands Boulevard between Texas Street and Tennessee Street would facilitate access to the new station by installing sidewalks, a planted center median, bicycle lanes and a crosswalk at New York Street. \

The Downtown Transit Village plans provide a walkable mixed-use district consisting of pedestrian-scaled blocks, tree-lined streets with seating and exterior dining opportunities, squares and plazas.

Surface parking lots infilled with compact mixed-use development would utilize onsite parking garages. Orange Street and Redlands Boulevard, as the primary entries into downtown, are enhanced with new street trees, streetlights, and other streetscape elements.

The Santa Fe Depot has been rehabilitated and restored with a four-level parking structure constructed adjacent to the Arrow and Metrolink platforms. A new at-grade pedestrian passage crosses the railway along the Third Street alignment connecting the parking structure to the Santa Fe Depot and possibly a small plaza south of the railway.

The Downtown Transit Village anticipates redevelopment of the Redlands Mall (applications are being processed with the city) and the realignment of State Street and Third Street to restore the interconnected block pattern that existed prior to the construction of the mall. Redevelopment of the mall site would include up to four-story tall mixed-use and/or multi-family residential buildings throughout the mall site.

Within the High Avenue neighborhood, the project provides for infill development of vacant and underutilized parcels and a possible future parking garage on the Ed Hales Park parking lot.

The project includes the development of multi-family residential uses between Eureka Street to the east and Texas Street to the west, Stuart Avenue to the north and State Street to the south, in walking distance of both the New York Street/Esri Station and Downtown Station.

A neighborhood park could possibly go between the railway and Oriental Avenue, east of Texas Street, and a greenway and park network is envisioned to extend between the Esri campus and downtown.

University of Redlands President Krista L. Newkirk recently revealed first plans for the University Village on Aug. 3 during the City Council meeting. The university is planning to build a 30-acre transit-integrated neighborhood envisioned as a new Town & Gown village center that includes diverse housing types, retail and restaurant destinations, a boutique hotel, an entrepreneurial office and work-live spaces that would benefit all Redlands residents. Proposed buildings are no higher than four stories.

The University Transit Village would include the new University Village composed of Village North, Village Center and Village South, and a new Sylvan Neighborhood. Village North would provide academic and campus-oriented uses as well as mixed-use buildings with ground-floor retail and residential, office, or academic uses on the upper floors. A central park is planned east of the station, and a university-oriented hotel and conference center north of the central park.

Preparing the plan

The Notice of Preparation lists potential environmental issues with the Transit Villages. The Environmental Checklist indicates the proposed project would potentially result in significant environmental effects. Based on the initial study, the city anticipates draft EIR to address the following topics:

● Aesthetics

● Air quality

● Cultural resources

● Energy

● Geology/soils

● Greenhouse gas emissions

● Hazards and hazardous materials

● Hydrology/water quality

● Land use/planning

● Noise

● Population/housing

● Public services

● Recreation

● Transportation

● Tribal cultural resources

● Utilities/service systems

● Mandatory findings of significance

There are no significant impacts associated with agriculture and forestry resources, biological resources, mineral resources or wildfire. n Tentative next phases for the Transit Villages Specific Plan

● Fall to winter 2021: Prepare the EIR.

● First-quarter 2022: EIR public review/comment period and final EIR preparation.