I hope the discussion around the latest mall redevelopment plan will center on the facts. Here are several:
1. Measure G was not a referendum on mall height.
2. The recently earned height exemption was granted under Measure U.
3. A high rise is 13 stories, not five.
Change is hard. Humans are wired to be distrustful of the new. The status quo, regardless of how lacking and mediocre, can seem safe, even comforting. But if we are being honest, the plan to finally redevelop the dilapidated, fiscally draining Redlands Mall is not new. It is not revolutionary. It is simply a return to what first made Redlands special: architecturally interesting shops and housing situated on lively, vibrant, human-scale streets located near transit.
A healthy city isn’t one made up of miles of suburban homes far from the city center. It is one that offers housing diversity. Downtown housing will not only satisfy demand, it will create an economic boom for area shops and restaurants, many of which barely survived the pandemic.
If we reject this thoughtful plan due to concern about a portion of the project rising to five stories, then I fear for this city’s future. It’s hard to imagine another developer willing to wade into the malaise.
4. In the meantime, I fear for our last remaining groves. It’s hard to see how Redlands can meet required housing unit construction and keep our remaining groves if we wall off the most logical place for vertical housing.
Daniel Otter, Redlands