Downtown Ontario is entering its ‘revival era’ with revitalization plan (2024)

Ontario is making moves to revitalize and refresh its downtown area, hoping to attract more visitors.

Initially presented in 2022, the Downtown Ontario Activation update provides a pathway for the city to move forward with plans to improve theonce-bustling area.

Some of those strategies, such as reviving unused buildings and spaces, are now being implemented.

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Ishmael Arias, executive director for the Downtown Ontario Improvement Association, says the changes coming to the area are much needed, and “it is a really exciting time here.”

“The downtown of today will look very different in a three-year span,” Arias said in an interview. “We’re in the midst of an evolution. It is even a different downtown than when we were coming out of COVID.”

Ontario created a retail pop-up program offering $1-a-month rents to small businesses that set up brick-and-mortar shops in city-owned buildings downtown, an area that encompasses about nine blocks between E Street to the north and Main Street to the south, with Euclid Avenue running down the middle.

More updates are on the way:

• A barbecue restaurant, The Mule Car Smokehouse, in the former Bank of Italy Building on Euclid, is slated to have a soft opening this month, with the grand opening set for July. The restaurant will be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

• A rooftop restaurant, El Balcon, is expected to open in the former bank building later this year.

• Plans for acivic center expansion include a City Hall annex, parking structure and fire station, according to Peter Pallesen, an economic development coordinator for the city.

• The University of La Verne expects to add a second satellite campus downtown. A new college of health building is expected to join the existing law college.

• Luxury lofts already under construction are scheduled for December 2024 completion, and there are plans to build townhomes for increased opportunities for home ownership on city-owned property located at D Street and Euclid.

• An additional 18 spaces for food and beverage vendors would also be housed in the Gemmels Pharmacy building on the 100 block of West Euclid.

• A luxury car storage business with an attached brewery and tasting space is planned for 211 W. Emporia St.

And in recent weeks, the city announced two other developments that officials say will be key to the revival of the downtown area — the acquisition of the historic Granada Theater and the transfer of Euclid Avenue from state control to the city.

On June 4, the Ontario City Council voted to acquire the theater at301 N. Euclid Ave. to preserve it and reopen it as a community theater and event space with additional business spaces on the ground floor.

Earlier this week, Ontario officials announced an agreement with Caltrans giving the city control over the portion of Euclid Avenue between the 10 Freeway and Merrill Avenue. Ontario will have the ability to make improvements to Euclid as it sees fit, such as adding hiking paths, benches, and trash cans to the median, officials said in a city news release.

Ontario is a destination point in the region, said Arias of the DOIA, which represents businesses and property owners who support the safety, cleanliness, and overall well-being of the downtown area.

A revitalized downtown space is vital to securing the city’s ability to draw visitors, Arias said. As existing storefronts are reactivated with new businesses, he added, keeping the downtown’s history alive is also important to the association.

“In preserving the historical culture by renovating these historic buildings and also modernizing it, you are bringing them back to life in a new way,” Arias said. “You are making that historical culture timeless.”

Downtown Ontario is entering its ‘revival era’ with revitalization plan (2024)

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