The Santa Monica, California-based Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners (MRY) has announced its selection as project architect and planner for a forthcoming mixed-use, transit-oriented development directly adjacent to the University of Redlands in San Bernardino County, California. Dubbed University Village, the new “car-light” neighborhood will bring a mix of housing, retail, flexible workspaces, and more to the 114-year-old private university and its main campus near the city of Redlands’ downtown core. (For reference, Redlands, famed for its historic citrus industry and Victorian architecture, is located roughly equidistant between Los Angeles to the west and Palm Springs to the southeast).
Pasadena-based Moule & Polyzoides Architects & Urbanists was tapped by the university to conceive the initial project master plan.
MRY joins a larger public-private partnership team led by REACH LLC, a town-building consortium of San Francisco-based housing development firm Republic Metropolitan, the L.A.-based Creative Housing Associates, and Arteco Partners, a self-described “re-developer” based in Pomona. An exclusive negotiation agreement between the university and REACH LLC was announced in early November.
“This vibrant, transit-oriented, sustainable community will transform the University and City- bringing much-needed housing, parks, and cultural amenities to the southern edge of University of Redlands,” Carissa Oyedele, AIA, an associate principal with MRY and firm leader of the University Village project, told AN in a statement. “The 30-acre site will include a wide range of housing types in walkable neighborhoods, to support diversity, choice, and a strong sense of community.”
Scheduled to break ground in 2024, University Village is at the heart of the University of Redlands Strategic Plan, dubbed North Star 2020. As mentioned by Oyedele, University Village will rise on a parcel of university-owned land on the southern-most edge of the school’s historic and notably lush 160-acre campus at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains as an outward-looking means of “creating an income stream that is independent of, but complementary to, its tuition-based revenue stream,” according to the University.
In a July 28 project update shared with the University of Redlands community, university President Krista Newkirk described the future neighborhood as being “a beautiful, walkable, and inviting space that will help to recruit students, faculty, and staff. In short, it is the destination spot we have long envisioned.”
That update also implored the university community to speak out against a petition-driven ballot initiative seeking to limit the height of the buildings within the transit village development zone to three stories and 40-feet-tall; the university had planned for roughly 30 percent of the buildings within the enclave to top-out at four stories and 52-feet-tall. Following a vote by Redlands City Council in early August, it was decided that the height-shrinking/density-slashing proposed ordinance, which would also impact other planned developments in addition to University Village, will appear on the ballot during the next general election in November 2022 in lieu of holding a costly special election.
“The population density in this plan is necessary to make this development, with its open spaces including a Village Green, financially viable,” noted Newkirk in the July letter. “This development is critical to the future of the University. It will attract prospective students, faculty, and staff; add an important revenue source; and help keep tuition affordable.”
“I am sure that nobody who signed this initiative wanted to significantly hurt the university or its future, but that is, in fact, what this initiative does,” Newkirk added in an interview with the Redlands Daily Facts.
Height-limiting ballot initiatives aside, the multiphase development will be centered around a new San Bernardino County Transit Authority MetroLink/Arrow Line rail station set to go into operation next year and encompass 1.4 million total gross square feet of mixed-use space that will include 750,000 square feet of multigenerational housing available at “diverse price points,” per MRY. Also included will be 350,000 square feet of retail along with 175,000 square feet of flexible office space catering to small businesses and local entrepreneurs. There are also plans for a higher-end boutique hotel (a first for the city of Redlands) featuring a rooftop restaurant and bar, theater, and a 35,000-square-foot market hall.
Ample public green space will envelop University Village, which will also border the Mill Creek Zanja, a National Register of Historic Places-listed irrigation canal boasting a relatively new greenway and trail. In addition to the adjacent rail station, the neighborhood will, as mentioned, promote “car-light” modes of transportation and feature ample bicycle lanes and pedestrian thoroughfares.
The low-vehicular traffic streets winding through the new neighborhood will be “cool” ones—this is just one of the multiple sustainable attributes planned for University Village including greywater recycling systems for landscape irrigation, renewable energy, and more.
AN will provide further updates as the project—not one without local controversy as evidenced by the forthcoming ballot initiative—progresses.