Skip to contents

Downtown arts district’s potential eight-story project

Visitors may soon have the opportunity to experience a modern extended stay in Riverside. Today at 9 a.m. the Planning Commission will consider entitlements for constructing a two-building dual-brand 226-room hotel, AC Marriott – Residence Inn, and the modification of historic fire station #1 into creative office space.

The lot’s address is 3420-3482 Mission Inn Avenue, situated across from the Riverside Art Museum between Lemon and Lime Streets. The project comes to fruition from Overland Development (Overland), a Riverside-based real estate development company. Riversiders can live-stream the meeting at Engage Riverside and offer public comment by calling (951) 826-8600.

Under consideration

Overland has worked closely with the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce (the Chamber) and the Cultural Heritage Board to plan, develop and propose the dual-brand hotel. The Chamber is testifying on the project’s behalf in today’s meeting. As stated in the meeting details, Overland submitted a proposal to consider the following: 

  1. A Conditional Use Permit to permit hotel development, with a floor-area-ratio greater than 3.0 and a building height greater than 60 feet; 
  2. A Variance to reduce the required 15-foot front setback on Mission Inn Avenue; 
  3. A Variance to allow fewer parking spaces than required by Code.

Overland founder, project applicant and native Riversider Andrew Walcker said the variances come out of the project developers’ and Marriott’s extensive research and collective desire to deliver a high-quality customer experience. In addressing the community’s concern of the variances, Walcker said the city’s zoning code and design standards do not fully address urbanized developments, leaving project developers with unique challenges in project execution. Walcker also pointed out that Marriott’s number one priority is customer experience. 

“We are holding this project to the highest standards. We also recognize that if the customer experience is less than good, then [because of Marriott’s customer-driven policies] we are the ones that literally have to pay for that,” Walcker said in a phone interview on Wednesday. 

The proposal suggests all hotel parking be valet and serve a three-level subterranean parking structure dedicated to the AC Marriott – Residence Inn.

The plans to modify historic fire station #1 include a 12,000 square-foot portion of the former 18,172 square-foot station to be converted into creative offices. Tenants have not been identified. Overland intends to honor the historic station by maintaining its architectural style and remaining in conversation with the Cultural Heritage Board.

You can access all project details in the proposal report.

Good for business?

This project comes at a time of city-wide economic instability due to COVID-19, yet project developers anticipate the hotel will turn a positive economic impact. The Chamber and Overland predict an annual revenue of $1.1 million from Transient Occupancy Tax alone, which will deposit directly into the city’s general fund. Cindy Roth, Chamber president and CEO, believes this project is the forward-thinking necessary to help move local businesses into better sustainability.

“Economically, Riverside’s forward trajectory was looking good, then COVID hit and everything had to be reassessed. And the reality is that we’ve lost businesses. So being able to bring this, alongside other investments, is just huge for our neighboring small businesses,” Roth said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

Roth also expressed the downtown area’s deficit in extended-stay hotels. The AC Marriott – Residence Inn will be the first extended-stay hotel in downtown Riverside. The hotel will accommodate the city’s rising need to provide extended hospitality, particularly for people visiting loved ones at the hospital, professors traveling to local colleges and universities and convention center guests.

Designed for downtown

If passed, the dual-brand hotel will be nestled in the downtown arts district. Walcker recognized downtown’s hotel deficit in conjunction with the city’s plans and recalls the city’s previous solicited interest for development opportunities at this location. Walcker has considered the Cultural Heritage Board’s suggestions and expressed that, from day one, the team designed the project to complement and further brand the arts district corridor.

“Developing in this block is no small feat. The standard is high when you’re building directly across from a Julia Morgan original,” Walcker said, referring to the Riverside Art Museum.

Walcker is no stranger to bringing life through art in his projects. In his recent construction of the Hampton Inn on Market Street, Walcker commissioned local artist Rico Alderette of made. shop to create a textile mural, The Citrus Swing, to bring beauty to an otherwise empty wall. Walcker has similar intentions to commission local artists for this project.

“First and foremost, you do not create a false sense of historical development. But, when we looked at this project, we realized that if we did anything that looked different than the historical buildings that exist downtown, then it would be disjointed. That’s why a lot of the architecture style will reflect mid-century,” Walcker said. 

AC Marriott is one of Marriott’s recent brand acquisitions and is based out of Spain. For that, Walcker thinks this is an appropriate fit to reflect downtown Riverside’s Spanish heritage. The building will house three large walls for murals, an alley designated for local artists and three places for statue art.