Warehouse plans canceled by owner of Westmont Village retirement community near Riverside – Press Enterprise

It looks like the indoor warehouse boom won’t move next door to Westmont Village.

The president of the company that owns the Riverside area retirement community said Tuesday (May 17) that it was abandoning plans to build warehouses on vacant land next to Westmont, a proposal that has met with strong opposition from the share of Westmont residents.

Instead, Andy Plant of La Jolla-based Westmont Living said he plans to develop homes on the land.

“We’re committed to Westmont Village for the long term and we don’t want to create long-term issues that will negatively affect the community,” Plant said in a phone interview. “At the same time, we try to understand how the land can be used. At this point, it looks like the way forward is residential.

He added: “We really listened to the residents and that was a big factor in our decision.”

Plant sent a letter announcing his change of plans to Westmont residents. Christina Miller, who lives in Westmont, said while she was “cautiously optimistic” about Plant’s comments, “I’m not celebrating yet.”

Miller remains concerned that warehouses could still be built next door.

“I’m pretty happy it happened,” she said. “But I’m not really convinced either.”

Formerly known as Air Force Village West, Westmont occupies land that was once part of March Air Force Base before being reduced to an air reserve base in the 1990s.

Plant’s company wanted the March Joint Powers Authority, the public body with authority over land use on the former military property, to rezone vacant land west and south of Westmont for industrial use. Plans called for a 1 million square foot warehouse and three other logistics buildings ranging in size from 43,332 square feet to 83,551 square feet.

Westmont residents feared the warehouses would bring in toxic fumes from diesel trucks and ruin their quality of life with noise and light pollution.

“Aside from the health effects – the noise, the lights – I really don’t see how I or others on this street … could peacefully exist here,” Westmont resident Jo Crosbie said in February.

The land is near the Ben Clark Training Center, which trains law enforcement personnel. Plant said it was pursuing industrial development after hearing concerns from officials that building houses near the center would lead to noise complaints.

Amazon and UPS facilities are close to the field, Plant said.

“From my point of view, it would have made sense to do residential or industrial,” he says, because the land represents a transition zone between housing and warehouses.

Plant said he met with locals and heard their opposition to the logistics. He said after receiving feedback from the office of Riverside County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries — who represents Westmont and sits on the March JPA board — and the Ben Clark Center, he now plans to build homes on the land with a berm separating them from the training center. to control noise.

Plant said he didn’t know how many homes would be built on the land or if they would be age-restricted like Westmont’s homes. He added that it would take his civil engineering firm six to nine months to assess the environmental impact of the houses, with construction in at least a year.

Miller said if housing is built, she hopes it will be for people 55 and older.

“If (Plant) expands Westmont Village…that would be great,” she said.

While it looks like warehouses won’t be Westmont’s neighbors, logistics loom large in the area around Highway 215 and March Air Reserve Base, driven by strong e-commerce demand; cheap, flat, vacant land suitable for warehouses; easy access to highways and rail lines; and the Inland Empire’s proximity to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

More than 1.8 million square feet of storage space – approximately 32 football pitches – is planned for vacant lots near the Orangecrest and Mission Grove neighborhoods of Riverside, not far from Westmont. Sandwiched between 215 and the airbase, a 1.9 million square foot Target distribution center is under construction.

While warehouses employ thousands and anchor the domestic economy, critics argue it’s not worth the air pollution, truck traffic and other ills associated with warehouses, which squeeze closer to homes and businesses. schools.

Logistics complexes are also being sought for sites near senior communities in Banning and Beaumont, as demand for warehouse space drives new logistics projects in the San Gorgonio Pass and Desert.

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