Growing Fast, Growing Smart
City of Menifee, CA
Menifee, California is a city in southwestern Riverside County and part of the Los Angeles combined statistical area. It is currently one of the fastest-growing communities in the state. An enormous amount of activity is underway, with every major Interchange under renovation, new town centers and markets under construction and even a new courthouse in the works. To make sense of it all we spoke with Senior Management Analyst Gina Gonzalez and Economic Development Director Jeff Wyman.
Menifee was incorporated as a city in 2008 when its population was about 67,000, and it has been growing quickly since then. It was a joining of multiple communities including Sun City, Quail Valley, parts of Romoland and the Menifee Valley area. As it stands, the population is roughly 86,000 with a median age of thirty-eight years.
“We were the second-fastest growing city in Riverside County in 2014 and one of the fastest growing in California. We have over 32,000 households projected by the end of 2016. It is a rapid growth!”
Seventeen residential projects are underway with eleven more going through final map approval. There are over two hundred new homes under construction every month which is an average of about 7,200 additional residents each year with average new home prices at approximately $350,000.
Southwestern Riverside has been one of the fastest-growing areas over the last fifteen to twenty years. Some of the other cities in the vicinity had been growing at the same or similar pace but were reaching maximum capacity, so the City of Menifee is the next great step in this area.
The city has plenty of land on which to build, matched by an excellent quality of life for prospective residents with new amenities and parks. It is one of the safest cities in the region, and its schools have “the second-highest test scores for the area.”
“We have over one million square feet of new commercial that’s either under construction or approved to be constructed. Being at the heart of the southwest Riverside area makes us a great regional attraction.”
City council understands that this kind of growth is going to require additional infrastructure improvements. Two years ago, the city council adopted its first ever capital improvement program which was, at that time, a $100 million list of projects. It has since been updated to a $170 million project list which has ten projects currently being undertaken.
Some have already been completed, including the Menifee Road ‘missing link’ project, which connected a missing portion of the main road in the area. Newport Road widening on the east side has been completed as have the Encanto Road improvements, in the largest project to date.
“What’s really unique about our city is that we are one of the very few cities working on every interchange within the city.”
The I-215 and Newport Road Interchange project is a $48.4 million reconstruction of the main interchange that is happening now and will be finished by the end of the year. There are other projects planned, including the Holland Road overpass, a McCall Boulevard interchange project and the Bradley Road project, which will provide a bridge over a large drainage area.
“These major infrastructure projects are moving forward, and the city is pushing forward which will assist with continued circulation within the area, done through the capital improvement program.”
Funding efforts in Menifee County are made possible through a collaboration of agencies. For the Newport Road Interchange, the city obtained $20 million bonded debt to assist the funding, which permitted it to put $17.5 million net into the project.
“That spurred interest and raised that project on the priority list of regional funding sources – including Riverside County Western Riverside Council of Governments – as a regional transportation unified mitigation fee. It’s a regional transportation funding program. That allowed us to move up that program’s priority list, and we were also able to identify and capture some federal funding.”
A large number of commercial projects are moving forward. Restaurants, including Applebee’s, Jersey Mike’s Subs and Five Guys Burgers and Fries, are moving in. Cosmetics chain Ulta Beauty and tween fashion store Justice will be opening soon, and Menifee now has its own microbrewery: The Mason Jar Brewing Company. Of the thirty-nine new businesses coming to the city, a majority will be in one retail center called the Town Center Marketplace, a 100,000-square-foot space.
“It is a twelve-acre site which includes grocery stores, Pet Smart, Party City, active-wear and clothing, restaurants such as Buffalo Wild Wings and Rubio’s, Krispy Kreme, Yogurtland, European Wax Centre, a chiropractic center, et cetera.” The center is seventy percent complete and should be opening between May and early summer of 2016.
A nine-room, civil courthouse will be constructed in the Town Center Marketplace, and the development will also include a five-acre park featuring an outdoor amphitheatre. The park will be completed this year while the courthouse will open in 2018.
As far as future construction goes, new amenities are very much needed, and the Krikorian Premiere Theatres’ entertainment complex is generating lots of excitement. It is to be a fourteen-screen movie theatre with one of the largest screens in all of California and is set to open in 2017. The center will also feature a sixteen-lane bowling alley and a sports bar-themed restaurant with a large TV screen.
“So that’s moving forward, and they’ve already purchased the land, and we’re waiting for them to submit their development application along with conceptual designs.” The Krikorian is just one piece of a larger 174-acre development in downtown Menifee.
There is another 100,000-square-foot neighborhood center which will include an LA Fitness and will start construction here within the next ninety days.
Menifee is a great place to do business for many reasons. Population growth has been tremendous, so the area is underserved and clamoring for amenities. The opportunities for business owners are incredible, and demand is high for commercial, retail and restaurant uses. Being centrally located in southwestern Riverside gives access to over 700,000 people within a fifteen-mile radius.
Because Menifee is currently an underserved area, its residents have been travelling outside of the city for a good portion of their shopping and entertainment. “They are tired of travelling. They actually want to stay in their community and be able to shop, so we are well underserved for a lot of these items which is the impetus for a lot of the development that is moving forward now.”
The I-215 runs through the city and carries 89,000 cars a day, and there is plenty of available freeway frontage lands at reasonable prices. A significant business incentive program is in place which seeks to attract and assist businesses that the city needs in the area. Menifee has a spectacular business ombudsman program which aids new businesses that are looking to open in the area.
“We have staff, on board here at the city, for our economic development department that will assist on all levels of business attraction.” City staff will help from initial contact and development application submission to the processing of entitlements, grading and building permits and construction. “We’re here to help businesses get open as fast as possible, and we will insert ourselves when needed and come up with solutions to ensure that happens.”