New Apartments Next to Downtown Metrolink Station Evoke Riverside’s Citrus Heritage

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(This article was written by Ryan Hagen of The Press Enterprise, and published on April 24, 2019)

Eye-catching apartments next to the downtown Riverside Metrolink station are nearly complete, part of an effort to transform the area next to downtown.

The corrugated metal exteriors, designed to look like the citrus packinghouses that used to define the area, also evoke railroad boxcars. A bridge through the middle of the complex looks like the train track it used to be.

“We’re paying homage to the history of the area along with our vision,” said Darrin Olson, the owner and developer.

That vision includes getting people out of their cars and walking to downtown restaurants and entertainment or to transit options like the Metrolink and buses running along University Avenue to UC Riverside, he said.

“With all the jobs, people can literally walk to work,” said Olson, a principal with Newport Beach-based Realm real estate. “As time progresses and you get more people living in the area, there’s a good stock of old packing houses that have the potential to be rehabilitated for office buildings or brewpubs. It’s an open slate.”

The project — which crosses University Avenue using an old Southern Pacific Railroad bridge that Realm now owns — is north of Ninth Street and south of Mission Inn Avenue. It includes 52 studio apartments, 77 one-bedroom apartments, and 83 two-bedroom apartments, all of which will be rented at market rate. Other features include a pool, fitness center and dog park.

Olson said he wasn’t yet ready to disclose the price range. People can sign up at missionlofts.com to pre-lease or sign up for tours that will be given closer to the projected opening in June, he said.

Neighbors in the Eastside neighborhood didn’t want low-income housing, said Councilman Andy Melendrez, who represents the ward.

“This can really brighten a blighted area and improve the quality of life for people in that area,” Melendrez said. “When we spoke to the developer, he basically saw it as really an opportunity to re-energize an area that had a lot of homeless people, the Police Department had to do cleanups on a regular basis, and I agree.”

A few neighbors voiced concerns of gentrification, Melendrez said, but while he expected residents of the Mission Lofts to have higher incomes than surrounding residents, he sees the economy as responsible for raising housing costs regardless.

Affordable housing is also being built, he noted, and at least for now he expects most of the Mission Loft’s tenants to travel toward downtown rather than to the Eastside.

“It’s in a transitional area, between the downtown and the Eastside, that is still kind of finding its way,” Melendrez said. “I think before the Mission Lofts starts changing the complexion of the area, you really need to start changing and developing the spot between the freeway and the railroad tracks.”