Rondor Rehabilitation in Redlands

While Old Riverside Foundation focuses its attention to the preservation of historic resources in the City of Riverside, we do look for opportunities to give a shout out to preservation activities elsewhere that are worth celebrating. Such an opportunity is the case of the Rondor Building adaptive reuse project nearing completion in Redlands. Full disclosure: Old Riverside Foundation’s President, Michael Gentile, works for an engineering firm connected to this project.

The Rondor Building was constructed by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. According to Brian Desatnik, Director of Development Services for the City of Redlands, “The building was constructed in 1906 and it’s the last building of its type in the city. It’s original use was storage of cars for electric trolleys. It was later used for general storage of baggage and other items for passengers traveling on the Santa Fe trains.” (Redlands Community News, May 24, 2019).

Work started last last year on the project, which will transform the old warehouse into a brewery. According to the Architectural Resources Group website (, the project preserved the wood trusses and added new trusses sistered on each side with additional steel plates and columns added for structural strengthening.

The original shell of the building has been revived too. The brickwork has been cleaned, ready for its grand opening in the near future, and a window on the south side that had been bricked over, has been re-opened. A new door entrance has also been added to the north side.

As it turns out, the Rondor Building is in the historic Chinatown area of Redlands, and an excavation is being done closer to the intersection of Orental Avenue and Eureka Street. According to archaeologist Donn Grenda, an apartment building sat at the location of the excavation, and the excavation has unearthed a number of artifacts including some large bottles.

The Rondor Building project, the associated excavation, the redevelopment at the corner of Eureka and Oriental, and the rehabilitation of the Santa Fe Depot are all being done by Property One, LLC, which is the real estate company associated with Esri. The Santa Fe Depot is undergoing a very meticulous restoration.

Property One, LLC, also applied for, and received, a historic resource designation for the Rondor Building by the City of Redlands in May 2019. According to the Redlands Community News, Property One, LLC has plans to apply to put the building on the National Register of Historic Places. Old Riverside Foundation would like to see more developers take this approach.

I mention these last two items because Riverside has two buildings that could use the kind of care an attention that the Rondor Building and Santa Fe Depot are receiving in Redlands. One is the Soda Works building on the north side of Mission Inn Avenue between Park Avenue and Commerce Street. This District Contributor to the Seventh Street East Historic District, and City Stucture of Merit #412 is in dire need of restoration and is currently in escrow. A recent structural evaluation of the building has been conducted and ORF is trying to get a copy of the report. The historical survey done in 2011 stated that the cement-block building appears eligible for listing in the National Register and as a City Landmark. A restoration similar to what is being done with the Rondor Building would be just the right tonic for Riverside’s historic soda works!

The other building in need of care, and slated for demolition by the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) is the FMC building north of 12th Street (not the one currently in use by SolarMax). Rather than incorporate the FMC building into their Metrolink Station expansion plans, RCTC has chosen instead to disregard Riverside’s (and the USA’s) military history, and recommend removal of the historic FMC building that constructed the famous water buffaloes in WWII.

Riverside deserves better. Contrast this approach to what Redlands is doing with their historic Santa Fe Depot as Metrolink expands its reach there. Old Riverside Foundation encourages RCTC to reimagine its plans in cooperation with the City of Riverside and its Eastside Community.

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