By Sandra Emerson, Redlands Daily Facts
Posted: 04/20/14, 8:14 PM PDT |

REDLANDS>> A City of Industry-based developer has broken ground on its second shopping center here, more than 10 years after its first center, Citrus Plaza, began to open — bringing resolution to years of legal battles and contention over the development.

Majestic Realty Co. broke ground on its 67-acre Mountain Grove at Citrus Plaza retail and entertainment shopping center located in the 1,100-acre property in unincorporated San Bernardino County, known as the Donut Hole because it is a county island located in northwest Redlands.

The development will be a “sister” development to Citrus Plaza, which together will offer 1.2 million square feet of retail, hospitality and entertainment in the developer’s 120-acre portion of the Donut Hole.

“We’re always very excited when we start construction on a new project, and this one has been many years in the making and we’re thrilled it’s finally underway,” said John Hunter, vice president and director of development for Majestic.

Mountain Grove is expected to open in the summer of 2015 with several anchor stores, including Nordstrom Rack, T.J. Maxx/Home Goods, Hobby Lobby, h.h. gregg, Tilly’s, 24-Hour Fitness and buybuy Baby.

It will complement the Citrus Plaza center just to the south, which is anchored by a Target and a Kohl’s.

Hunter said Citrus Plaza has proven to be popular since it first started opening in 2003 with Kohl’s.

But some Redlanders may not realize that not only are the shopping centers not in the Redlands city limits, but that there is a decades-long story behind the Donut Hole.

Much of the story involves a community divided over allowing development in a historically agricultural town.

“By virtue of the fact the center is so well patronized by residents of Redlands and other surrounding communities we knew there was strong support and demand for what we built,” Hunter said. “It was just a small group that was not supportive and ultimately the community spoke. The project got approved. A deal got made that benefits the city, county and ourselves.”

Redlands voters in 2003 passed Measure N — a tax-sharing agreement – between the city and San Bernardino County to allocate 90 percent of sales tax generated in the Donut Hole to the city, with the remaining 10 percent going to the county.

In exchange for the tax revenue, the city agreed to provide water, sewer, police and fire services to the Donut Hole.

“It was the only decision we could make,” said Councilwoman Pat Gilbreath. “I still think they should have been in the city of Redlands. Had all of that not been an issue — whatever protection they thought they needed to have this project handled outside of Redlands — they accomplished that. We’ve basically been embarrassed all these years.”

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