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San Bernardino transforms crime-ridden vacant lot into a vibrant downtown with 5th Street Gateway

On April 11, 2024, the City of San Bernardino marked a major transformation with the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the 5th Street Gateway project, a development set to rejuvenate the cityscape. Local officials, including Mayor Helen Tran and Councilmembers Theodore Sanchez and Sandra Ibarra, in addition to business representatives and more than 200 community members, gathered at the vibrant venue amid bustling crowds and rising temperatures.

Councilor Theodore Sanchez reflected on the city’s journey and highlighted the transformative impact of the project. “It has been a long journey for San Bernardino to once again become the jewel of the Inland Empire,” Sánchez said. “This project has replaced an empty and abused lot with thriving businesses that generate income and provide employment, which represents a significant step forward for our city.”

Mayor Helen Tran praised the project as a wake-up call to the city’s potential. “San Bernardino is a sleeping giant, and this project wakes that giant up,” said Mayor Tran. “These new establishments are not just places to dine; they symbolize economic progress, job creation and a commitment to exceptional experiences for residents and visitors alike.”

The event featured operational Starbucks and Del Taco, with the nearly complete 711 and Sonic, and the recently started construction of an Ono Hawaiian BBQ drive-thru, adding to the excitement. David Friedman, co-owner of Realicore Real Estate and key player in the development, shared his enthusiasm and gratitude. “Today is the first day of construction for our upcoming Ono Hawaiian BBQ drive-thru. It is an honor for me to be able to do this in a city that I love so much. Thanks to everyone’s patience as I begin my first development, he said.

The San Bernardino Police Department, represented by Captain Nelson Carrington, assured continued security and support for the new businesses. “The department is committed to ensuring the safety of guests and the longevity of the company’s success with an increased police presence,” Carrington told the crowd.

Despite the celebration, the project has been criticized for adding another Starbucks, following recent controversies surrounding the brand’s legal actions against Workers United. A local Instagram user identified as Maravilla expressed disappointment over the municipality’s photo cutting the ribbon on the new company, linking it to broader geopolitical tensions. “You all seem too happy to finance genocide. This is disappointing,” Maravilla said, highlighting the mixed community response to the new developments.

In a lighter moment, Mayor Tran shared her personal favorites from the new establishments’ menus, revealing a penchant for snack tacos and fries from Del Taco and a custom tall coffee with four pumps of white mocha from Starbucks, without cream or sugar.

As San Bernardino stands at the crossroads of change, the 5th Street Gateway project not only promises new economic opportunities, but also sparks a dialogue about the community’s values ​​and vision.