City prioritizes commercial area, local businesses thrive

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Banners of fake shops being used to cover a portion of the Moreno Valley mall that has no stores. Renovations of the mall are part of the agenda. (Hayden Kulick | Viewpoints)

By Jazmyn De Jesus

The motion to approve the redevelopment of the Moreno Valley Mall was passed unanimously. 

The City of Moreno Valley has been prioritizing the “Beautify MoVal” sentiment under the leadership of Mayor Ulises Cabrera, with the redevelopment of the Moreno Valley Mall and other shopping centers being  on the agenda for the May 16th City Council meeting. 

Mayor Cabrera emphasized that the redevelopment of the mall would mitigate the declining numbers of small businesses within the city. 

“We all know and live how the economy is changing every day,” Cabrera said.  “Unfortunately we see the results of that with vacancies in our retail spaces.” 

This motion directly relates to the Beautify MoVal sentiment that multiple attendees and public commentators were in support of, many of whom were donning “Beautify MoVal” hats and shirts in the audience. 

“(The mall) needs to be more modernized to be a place people actually want to spend time in,” Moreno Valley resident Maria Juco said.  

Others agreed when speaking publicly. 

“When I go out with me and my daughters in this area where we live, there’s nothing for us,” said Chelsea Ritchie. “So thank you to the applicants and we hope you guys make the right choice.” 

In the statements made by the applicants of the project, it was revealed that the idea to transform the mall has been in the works for 4 years by International Growth Properties (IGP) Business Group and architect Mark Levene. The project will prioritize a walkable, multi use space that features brick and mortar businesses in support of the townspeople. The company has also worked with Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) and has gotten support from them to add two more Riverside Transit bus stops in the mall area.

Public comments made by attendees criticized the revamp, feeling that the Edgemont region of the city is being neglected while the main areas of the city are improving at a constant rate. 

Pete Bluchard, Moreno Valley resident, attended last week’s meeting which covered a planning commission to improve the Edgemont area. 

“Everybody else has gotten it, but that town has not seen a dime. No city support,” he said . 

Julio Flores spoke on behalf of himself and the Southwest Carpenters Union while in support of the redevelopment and advocated for ethical contractors to be assigned to such a significant  project.

“The city should require developments to be built with contractors that will hire locally and pay prevailing wages,” Flores said. 

The attendance for the public hearing was recognized as notably high, by the council as many clearly supported the improvements proposed. 

“We’ve got to move the city forward the best we can,” Edgemont resident Donovan Saveek said. “I think so far we’re going in the right direction.” 

Planning for both the shopping center and Edgemont will be continued. Both are expected to be multiple year developments.

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