On Oct. 7, the Yucaipa Planning Commission met to discuss a change in the tenants at the Yucaipa Ponte Unified Commercial Center. The addition of a medical office facility in lieu of a movie theater and the redevelopment of an existing fuel station located at the southwest corner of Yucaipa Boulevard and 18th Street was the topic of discussion. The commissioners approved the staff’s recommendations.
Planning Manager/City Planner Benjamin Matlock said, “This is a revision to the original Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the Yucaipa Point Unified Commercial Center.”
Matlock continued with, “This specifically is a revision to incorporate some changes to the tenements including the addition of a medical office facility in lieu of a movie theater and also to incorporate the existing Mobile gas station at the corner of Avenue E and Yucaipa Boulevard into the project as well.”
On Nov. 25, 2019, city council approved a Conditional Use Permit for a phased unified center development plan, known as the Yucaipa Pointe Project. The project consisted of a variety of commercial uses, including retail, restaurants, an express carwash, a health club, and a future 39,000 square foot movie theater anchor.
As part of the project, a general plan amendment was also approved to change the land use designation of approximately 1.1 acres from Multiple Family Residential to a Service Commercial to correspond with the project boundary. An architectural review package for some of the proposed buildings and master plan were also approved for the center.
Matlock said, “Several of the pads included were a Chick-Fil-A restaurant, a Quick Quack Car Wash, LA Fitness, a Chipotle restaurant and others.”
Since the project approval, the applicant has been working on the construction of the center and has completed the grading efforts and building plan review for a Chick-Fil-A drive-through restaurant. In addition, the grading on other portions of the site has been initiated and the applicant is working to complete the relevant construction documents that are needed to build the other pads.
“The site itself has been previously graded as a result of the current grading activities for the originally approved project, as well as prior fill materials provided in around 2010. The site is currently undergoing grading activity with that current entitlement in place,” said Matlock.
One of the original sites was for a 39,000 square foot (975 seat) movie theater located along the eastern edge of the site, adjacent to 18th Street. However, discussions with the proposed movie theater tenants have stalled indefinitely due to the impacts from COVID-19, necessitating some revisions to the site to adapt to the market demands.
In lieu of the movie theater, a 60,000 square foot Kaiser Permanente facility is now proposed in its location instead. It will be a three-story structured design. In addition, an outdoor plaza area is provided near the entrance to the building.
Another change is the incorporation of the existing Mobile fuel station, located at the corner of Avenue E and Yucaipa Boulevard, to be part of the project development. A new 5,187 square foot convenience store and fuel canopy island would be constructed and a fuel station site would be incorporated into the landscape and architectural theme of the overall center, if the negotiations with Mobile can be finalized. The existing fuel station would be demolished.
Matlock said, “We did receive one project notice comment from a surrounding property owner requesting that the movie theater remain and not to have a medical office just so that there were more recreational amenities. It is my understanding, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that movie theater production or new theater sites probably will not be happening and some of the existing sites may actually be disappearing just because of the impacts to that industry.”
Two citizens spoke during public comment and both were commenting on a fence that was put in place that cut them off from an access road to the back of their property for delivery of hay for horses, a way to move the horses in a horse trailer, among other uses.
Planning Commissioner Chair JR Allgower asked, “Going from a movie theatre to a medical center, how does that impact traffic?”
Director of Development Services/City Engineer Fermin Preciado said, “When the city completed the traffic study, as part of the general plan update in 2015/2016, it modeled that for commercial use so for that purpose it is the same. Recognizing that a movie theater has different peak times and so does a medical facility so there is no drastic impact going from a movie theater use to a medical office.”
Matlock told the commissioners as part of the revision to the original approval, it was noted the evening traffic would decrease with the medical facility but the morning and earlier day traffic would increase with a medical office use. It would create no new impacts on how the traffic works and just shifts some of the traffic influx more to the earlier part of the day for an office use rather than a movie theater which would be more active at night.
The amended project was unanimously approved.