A contrast in development styles

The difference between San Jacinto and Hemet is widening in terms of both residential and commercial development activity

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Matt McPherson

■ Matt McPherson / Columnist

Already a month into 2018 and the San Jacinto Valley is seeing record setting development in the city of San Jacinto, while the city of Hemet struggles to attract retail and businesses.
In San Jacinto, residential developments are around every corner with commercial real estate struggling to keep up with the growing population and economy. Whereas in Hemet, an out of control homeless industry, $100 million sales tax impact, rampant crime, and other demographic issues have caused many businesses to leave, let alone attract any new businesses.
San Jacinto approved 235 new housing permits in 2017, almost double the permits issued in 2016 and it expects even more permits in 2018. RSI communities recently completed the Parkside Community in the heart of San Jacinto and plans to build 92 more homes in two neighborhoods. Potter’s Ranch (Ramona Boulevard and Silverado Drive) and Almaden (De Anza Drive and N. Lyon Avenue).
Another developer that has returned to San Jacinto is Lennar, which just built 77 new homes at Seventh Street and Pine Avenue. These combined with RSI communities total 169, which has made San Jacinto one of the hottest new home markets in Riverside County.
“The hot residential development market has retail developers gobbling up commercial property as fast as possible to build new retail to keep the upcoming new residential market captive and shopping in San Jacinto,” said San Jacinto City Manager Rob Johnson.
The San Jacinto commercial market is on fire, struggling to keep up with the growing population and new homes. The developers at Mountain View Plaza have announced they will be adding 31,900 square feet of commercial space to their shopping center at State Street and Community College Drive.
The city of San Jacinto established a strong partnership with Retail Strategies in early 2017 in an attempt to attract new businesses. Since then, ALDI, Wienerschnitzel, Mason Jar Ranch Bistro and Brew Pub, and now Starbucks have all initiated development, with many more on the way.
Johnson continued: “The partnership with Retail Strategies is already proving that San Jacinto is an attractive housing market, with a growing retail base, and we are so excited to have RSI Communities developing and offering more of it’s brand to those that want to move up and move into the San Jacinto lifestyle.”
The City of Hemet is slowly but surely advancing in residential development with an emphasis on condos and townhomes proposed towards the center of the city, with some larger tracts planned along the periphery of the city in some of the checkered open spaces.
On the south side of Eaton Avenue between Kirby Street and Sanderson Avenue, 37 lots have been approved with a minimum lot size of 7200 square feet.
Cawston Avenue, between Stetson and Thornton avenues, 40 condominiums have been approved on 2.5 acres.
River Oaks Ranch on Elk Street between Chambers Street and Thornton Avenue promises 161 new homes with a minimum lot size of 6000 square feet.
Along Fruitvale Avenue, between Lyon Street and Palm Avenue, 20 large 20,000 square foot residential lots have been approved on 13 acres.
The Page Ranch Community development of 448 age-restricted lots was recently modified to 440 non-age-restricted lots on Mustang Way east of Warren Road.
Some 242 units in 42 buildings have been approved on 17.7 acres on the Northwest corner of Menlo and Santa Fe, although city requirements have slowed the deal.
Commercially, the City of Hemet is seeing more stores close than open. Factors such as vagrancy, high sales taxes, low median income, and rumors of corruption are a stigma the City of Hemet is struggling to remedy. Taking a lesson from San Jacinto, the city has recently partnered with a retail strategist to attract businesses to Hemet. This City of Hemet partnership with a consultant was confirmed by City Manager Allen Parker. The council wants to promote commercial retail establishments throughout the city with an emphasis on recreation towards the south side near Diamond Valley Lake. In the coming weeks, more information will become available as to what strategies and businesses are being targeted.
Sadly, businesses such as Nason’s, Fitness 19, and Michael’s have announced they will be closing citing loss prevention and out-of-control crime as the causes. Hopefully, the retail strategist and consultant the city of Hemet has partnered with can find a cure to the situation that seems to plague Hemet.
On a positive note, Councilwoman Karlee Myer confirmed that Get Air Hemet is in the application process and should be on the Planning Commission agenda soon with a projected opening date of April–May. The facility will be on the northeast corner of Palm Avenue and Acacia Street. Also, a Chrysler dealership, car wash and detail building is under construction on 4.35 acres at the auto mall. Meanwhile, a handful of smaller businesses are filling up some of the vacancies in between the big-box stores and keeping many of the shopping centers afloat.
The City of Hemet needs one thing if it wants to advance the commercial retail market, and that is—jobs. It needs jobs that will eventually raise the community’s median income from where it currently rests at just above poverty level.
Suggestions have been made towards attracting industrial manufacturing and warehousing out on the west side surrounding the airport and auto mall, but these ideas have fallen on deaf ears. I feel once the council makes a serious effort towards creating jobs, then they can look forward to attracting the large commercial retail box stores on which they seem to be fixated.

Matt McPherson is a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Associated Brokers. He can be reached by email at: McPhtown@aol.com.

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