Warehouses dominate the Empire from the inside. Are the desert and the San Gorgonio pass next? – Company press

As the interior logistics footprint grows, its toes hit the sand.

Long associated with cities in the western half of the Inland Empire, six-figure mega-warehouses now dot the San Gorgonio Pass and desert landscape as an e-commerce boom makes logistics space more expensive and more difficult to find in the traditional interior. logistics centers.

Others are planned in Banning and Beaumont, neighboring towns of the pass which straddle the 10 Freeway. Two proposed projects could add up to 3.1 million square feet of logistics space to the two cities, which are home to more than 82,000 people combined. Beaumont had the highest growth rate of any community in Riverside and San Bernardino counties in the 2020 census, adding more than 16,000 residents since 2010.

Both projects face opposition from residents worried about air pollution and diesel truck traffic. Logistics is a major employer from within, but critics say paychecks don’t make up for damaged lungs and clogged roads.

“I think it’s a concern now that (warehouses) are starting to… encroach on residential areas,” said Randy Robbins, who lives at Sun Lake Country Club, a community in Banning for adults 55 and older. . “This is when environmental concerns really become an issue.

  • Sun Lakes Country Club resident Randy Robbins, an enemy of a warehouse project in front of his Banning home, is seen near the site on Thursday, November 4, 2021. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Sun Lakes Country Club resident Randy Robbins stands behind a trailer at a proposed warehouse site in front of his Banning home on Thursday, November 4, 2021. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Sun Lakes Country Club resident Randy Robbins, seen Thursday, November 4, 2021, and members of the Pass Area Action Group believe a proposed warehouse project would decrease their quality of life. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Sun Lakes Country Club resident Randy Robbins is seen on Thursday, November 4, 2021 at the site of a proposed warehouse across from his Banning home. Robbins and others say it would cause congestion and affect their quality of life. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Sun Lakes Country Club resident Randy Robbins is being held Thursday, November 4, 2021 on Sun Lakes Boulevard in front of his home and next to the site of a proposed warehouse. Robbins and members of the Pass Area Action Group oppose the project. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

The need for more storage space for goods shipped to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach turned the Inland Empire into a warehouse powerhouse. From 2004 to 2020, the amount of indoor logistics space doubled to around 600 million square feet as the number of large indoor distribution centers grew from 463 in 2009 to 711 in 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic has boosted e-commerce and the demand for instant delivery. That means more demand for warehouse space, but as the land expands there are fewer places to build new warehouses in the western part of the Inland Empire, said Jay Dick, an executive at the commercial real estate company CBRE.

“The market expands where there is flat land available,” he said. “No one comes to the market saying ‘I want to be in Beaumont and Banning.’ But when you look at the alternatives, this is one of the next logical places.

Dick estimates that over the past year there have been approximately 5 million square feet of logistics real estate transactions in High Desert communities like Hesperia and Victorville. While it costs more to transport goods from ports to warehouses further afield, the trade-off is that logistics rents are cheaper the further you move from ports, Dick said.

The Pass and the desert have experienced major logistics projects in recent years. In 2017, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved the 1.8 million square foot San Gorgonio Crossing Industrial Distribution Center in the unincorporated community of Cherry Valley, north of Banning and Beaumont.

In Coachella Valley, Amazon is transforming a former Sam’s Club in Cathedral City into a “last mile” facility to deliver goods to customers. And the eastern end of the Moreno Valley, just west of the pass, is the planned site of the World Logistics Center, which would include 40 million square feet – 705 football fields – of logistics space.

Banning started hearing more requests from warehouse developers three or four years ago, City Manager Doug Schulze said. Today, four or five logistics projects are under planning review, he said.

Kyle Warsinski, head of economic development for Beaumont, said his town had heard about the interest in logistics-type uses around 2012, “but it was very preliminary. There were a lot of industries looking at the area. But Beaumont was really left out and a lot of that interest ended up settling in Riverside, Perris or Moreno Valley.

Since then, four “major distribution / manufacturing facilities” have opened in Beaumont, including an Amazon distribution center, said Warsinski, who estimates logistics and manufacturing created 4,000 jobs in the city over the past year. decade, many for warehouse workers who live in the city and previously commuted to logistics jobs in western Riverside County.

Plans are under review for Beaumont Summit Station, a project that includes a four-story hotel, restaurant and retail space and three “e-commerce” buildings totaling 2.55 million square feet, according to the site of the town of Beaumont.

The e-commerce component worries Steve Mehlman, the municipal clerk of Beaumont who led the opposition to the Cherry Valley logistics center. He is concerned that the Beaumont project will cause traffic and air pollution and be too close to homes.

“I don’t mind if warehouses are built and jobs are created in an area suitable for warehouses,” Mehlman said. “But where they say it is wrong, and it’s not just because I live there… here you have an abandoned warehouse less than a quarter of a mile from a community of people. elderly. “

The project will need to address potential impacts to gain approval, Beaumont City Manager Todd Parton said.

“There are still a number of public hearings and zoning and planning hoops to go through before he gets the right,” he said.

A project north of the Sun Lakes Country Club in Banning calls for a 618,000 square foot industrial building, according to Schulze, the city manager of Banning. Robbins and other residents are organizing to combat it, saying it is unsuitable for an area that includes an elderly community and a memory care facility.

“Anyone who spends 24 hours here knows the traffic is horrible,” he said.

Add the truck traffic from a warehouse and “obviously it’s a total mess”.

The developers of the Banning and Beaumont projects did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Schulze said there was a lot of misinformation about Project Banning and that a warehouse would generate less traffic than the 4,000 homes or big box retail store previously planned for the site.

Landowners have the right to develop their land within the law and “it is very difficult for the city to categorically refuse the project,” said Schulze. “Rather than just outright opposing the project, (opponents should) think about what conditions should be placed on the approval of the project. How can we alleviate people’s concerns? “

Growth in logistics in the pass will affect the 10, 60 Freeway and local routes “and increase freight train traffic on a heavily congested rail network in Riverside and San Bernardino counties,” John Standiford, Executive Director deputy of the Riverside County Transportation Commission. , said by e-mail.

While truck lanes are being built on the 60 between Moreno Valley and Beaumont, it is a safety project that will not improve capacity, Standiford said, adding that “policy changes at the level of the ‘State “are delaying plans to increase capacity and” these are not current plans or funding available for any further expansion on (the 60) or (I-10). “

The transport commission “will continue to advocate at the regional, state and federal levels to mitigate the disproportionate impact of the movement of goods on the road and rail network of the Inland Empire,” Standiford said.

Meanwhile, the appetite for warehouse space that is pushing logistics out is not slowing down, Dick said.

“People are increasing the amount of goods in the supply chain,” he said. “Demand remains strong. I think it will continue. “

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