Within a few years, the Inland area will see new food halls open in Riverside and Redlands, following an urban trend of offering eclectic dining options under one roof.
Redlands officials this month approved a deal to sell an old citrus packing house to Pomona-based Arteco Partners, the same developer that is creating a Riverside food hall in a building leased from the city.
The Mutual Orange Distributors Packinghouse, at 330 N. Third St. near the Krikorian Cinema, will be restored according to historical standards. The city is selling the building for $320,000 in “as is” condition.
“I’ve seen what (Arteco has) done before and I’m really excited about it, and really looking forward to getting this project done,” Councilwoman Pat Gilbreath said Tuesday, Dec. 6. “A lot of people in the community are looking forward to getting it done as well.”
Arteco Partners specializes in re-using historic buildings. The firm’s work includes the Pomona Packing Plant, Pomona Fox Theater and Claremont Packing House. Now called the Food Lab, the Riverside project will be in a new building next to the city’s historic Fox Performing Arts Center.
The Riverside and Redlands projects are being designed, but Riverside’s will open first, possibly by the 2017 Festival of Lights, Arteco President Jerry Tessier said.
Construction should start in spring. Tessier said he’s not ready to name specific tenants, but he wants to offer choices from breakfast all the way through post-concert food and drinks.
“We’re definitely going to have a coffee shop,” as well as chefs and artisans making craft burgers, deli sandwiches, salads, vegetarian and vegan fare, ice cream or yogurt, ethnic cuisine and craft beer and cocktails, he said.
The project started with Mess Hall on Market street as its name, but “We actually discovered there was a trademark issue” with that name, Tessier said.
So he instead came up with Food Lab, which he said will fit with the experimental vibe of the place.
“The idea is that this is where chefs are trying out new concepts and they’re trying out seasonal menus” and using locally produced ingredients, he said.
At the Redlands facility, visitors will find sit-down restaurants and specialty food businesses as well as historical and educational displays and public art.
Businesses could rent a space in the Redlands Packing Plant, allowing them to avoid the cost and time it takes to open a restaurant or store.
Tessier said his team is excited to get to work.
“We’ve already gotten several people interested and are really getting a good buzz about the project in the community,” he said.
The project is anticipated to take about two years, with construction expected to start in 2017.
The Redlands Packing Plant is a working name, but more discussions are expected on an official name and how to market it.
Arteco’s proposal was chosen from six submitted to a subcommittee with members that included Mayor Paul Foster, Mayor Pro Tem Jon Harrison and city officials.
“I think the more we get to know Redlands, the more we feel like this project is a great fit,” Tessier said. “And we have an idea of what type of uses should go in the project to really make it something unique and very successful for Redlands.”