Mall owner plans to construct new apartments and commercial enterprises
■ By Kyle Selby / Reporter
The Hemet Valley Mall officially reopened its doors during the grand reopening ceremony Saturday morning, May 20. Hundreds of eager Hemet shoppers came out to enjoy the mall, subsequent to its long construction period that began around fall of last year.
“We’re excited today to be helping the celebration,” said Andy Anderson, CEO of Hemet/San Jacinto Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“I hope I’m looking at a lot of potential shoppers,” greeted Matthew C. Strauss, principal of M.C. Strauss, corporate owners of the Hemet Valley Mall, as he addressed the crowd. Strauss, who bought the property in 2003, briefly shared a short history of his time spent working on the mall since he acquired it. “I believe we’ve taken an ugly duckling and turned it into a beautiful swan.”
Mayor of San Jacinto Scott Miller stopped by to attend the ceremonial ribbon-cutting, as well as his fellow Councilwoman Crystal Ruiz, Hemet City Councilwomen Bonnie Wright and Karlee Meyer, and Riverside County Third District Supervisor Chuck Washington. Washington presented Strauss a certificate of recognition from the County of Riverside, followed by a short presentation by Councilwoman Wright.
“Please accept our great appreciation for investing in our community,” she told Strauss, then, turning to the crowd, “If all of you are like I am – if we don’t have to go out of town, we won’t!”
The construction at the mall was originally described as “a facelift” to the shopping center. Months later, what initially started as a $2.5 million project, became a $5 million “transformation project.” Strauss said he would award the MVP award to internal contractor Mike Snyder of JCOR Construction Inc. if he could, while also thanking Shella Lizardi, Hemet Valley Mall manager, for her hard work.
Exterior architect Mike Madelon and interior designer Michael Quagline incorporated brand new structural designs to the mall, which includes multiple new TV towers, bronze tables and stainless steel benches. Landscaping was also upgraded, with the addition of sixty 20-foot palm trees along the perimeter and entrance, 200 new flowers and at least 1,000 aloe vera plants.
Strauss also promises to implement new kiosks: “It’s going to be very streamlined, in keeping what we’ve done…We need you and all of your friends to come and enjoy the shopping experience!”
Strauss also indicated the importance of store leasing and expanding, declaring that he still owns 11 acres in the valley. A current ongoing project for the mall includes finalizing specs for a new restaurant and sports bar.
Elsewhere nearby, Strauss has plans to build 120 two-bedroom, two-bath apartments in the near future, as well as implementing a theater with stadium seating in the near future, because it is the “one thing Hemet does not have.”
Shoppers rushed into the mall when the doors opened around 10:30 Saturday morning, enjoying the new sights. The mall currently houses three anchor stores: JC Penney, Sears, and Hobby Lobby; with fashion, accessories, jewelry, and specialty shops including but not limited to Hot Topic, Footlocker, Claire’s, and Daniel’s Jewelers.
“The City of Hemet has been great to work with on this project,” said Strauss in closing. “It’s very important to have the city on your team.”