Downtown Riverside, CA- the Cultural and Urban Hub of the Inland Emphire

I evaluated Downtown Riverside as a neighborhood because it’s really not a major job center with only about 10K jobs here. Dwtn Riverside is also a large area of about 2 square miles with about 65% of its use as traditional early 20th century residential streets.

Riverside was founded in the early 1870s and a traditional street grid was quickly laid out setting the foundation for a well connected and walkable neighborhood. Downtown Riverside is also the birthplace of the California citrus industry and home of the Mission Inn, the largest Mission Revival Style building in the United States. It also fills the roll of cultural and urban hub of the Inland Empire; a title that San Bernardino unfortunately cannot claim given how disinvested its become.  Downtown Riverside hosts a great concentration of cultural amenities, decent retail amenities, an interesting pedestrian street along a couple blocks of Main St., good public transit, quality schools, great parks, and attractive historic architecture representing well the main historic styles common in California. What Downtown Riverside primarily needs to become a great urban district is more people. Its density is only 4,500 per square mile. I was shocked at how few apartment bldgs there are dwtn. Outside of the business core, the historic residential areas are primarily single family homes. Additional density would go a long way to attract additional retail amenities and expanding the mixed-use footprint of Downtown.

Click here to view my Downtown Riverside album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Generally consistant sidewalks and curbs (except for western edge going up to the mountains) but curbs generally not ADA compliant.
* Great location for if you have a job in Dwtn Riverside, but only about 10K jobs there.
* Public transit is generally good Dwtn but some transit deserts in the western and northern sections.
* Several dedicated bike lanes Dwtn, including recreational trails along the river. No dedicated bike stations however.
* Great economic and racial diversity. Some households with children but nice mix of college students and young professionals.
* Several excellent parks Dwtn including the expansive Mt. Rubidoux Park and Fairmount Park on the western edge of the district, the gorgeous White Park located near the center and the pedestrian street/plaza covering several blocks of Main St.
* Decent # of schools dwtn and generally rated pretty well.
* Decent retail amenities including a couple medium sized Mexican grocery stores, several drug stores, a bookstore, plenty of quirky boutiques, antiques, home goods and gift shops, several banks, plenty of dessert stores, a dwtn post office & public library, plenty of churches, and large hospital on Dwtn’s southern border.
* Dwtn Riverside is generally considered safe but some areas are best to avoid at night.
* Overall quality historic architecture both in the Business districts (Esp. with all the Spanish based mission architecture) and in the residential neighborhoods.
* Pedestrian traffic good in the core of dwtn. Pretty sparse in the res. areas.
* Good culturally amenities Dwtn including a plethora of restaurants, bars, & cafes, lots of art galleries, several live music venues & night clubs, a convention center, a couple performing arts theaters, and several museums and historic sites.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Density is rather low.
* Hsg is pretty expensive but similar to other stable inner city neighborhoods. Limited 1-bed product. Surprisingly there are few condos dwtn. What does exist sells around 400-500K, 2-beds sell btwn 300K-650K, 3 & 4 beds 400K-1 M.
* Rentals are surprisingly limited. What is available seems to lease in the 2-3Ks.
* Urban form is a mixed-bag in Dwtn Riverside. Mission  Inn Avenue has the best form, Market Street is a mixed bag, the smaller streets btwn 14th and 5th Streets are more “dwtn” in feel and a mix of surface parking lots, office towners, and areas of decent urban form. Main St in the northern half of dwtn is awful. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s