Rialto Will Help Relocate Airport Tenants

Rialto Municipal Airport tenants will receive help relocating to other airports to make way for the Renaissance Rialto project, which is expected to generate millions in sales tax revenue, Rialto officials said.

Eligible businesses or individuals will be offered referrals to suitable replacement locations, help in preparing claim forms for relocation payments and other assistance to minimize the impact of the move, according to a relocation plan for the Rialto Municipal Airport closure submitted March 15.

Every displaced person is eligible to be reimbursed for moving and related costs of as much as $10,000, according to the plan.

Renaissance Rialto is a 1,500-acre master-planned community along Interstate 210, west of Ayala Avenue. Project plans divide the land among residential, industrial, commercial and public uses, Robb Steel, the city's economic development director, has said.

The relocation costs for airport tenants will be funded by the Rialto Development Agency from the proceeds of the sale of the airport, records show.

The Renaissance Rialto developer, Lewis-Hillwood LLC, is expected to pay as much as $82 million for the airport property. The cost of removing hazardous waste, demolishing runways and relocating tenants will be deducted, Steel, said. The estimated relocation costs are $7 million records show.

Relocation will begin six months after the project's environmental-impact review, specific plan and development agreement are approved, which is expected to occur in November, records show.

Rents at Rialto Municipal Airport are below market value in most cases because of a rent freeze that was approved during discussions to close the airport. Officials are working with San Bernardino International Airport to get comparable rents for relocated tenants for at least a few years, Steel said.

For tenants that want to relocate to San Bernardino International Airport, there are about 18 to 20 acres available for facilities to be built, said Mike Burrows, assistant director of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority.

The goal is to have the facilities ready for tenants in about a year, Burrows said.

"Right now, we are in the process of designing what can be built and should have that completed within the next several weeks. Then we will look at moving forward with construction," Burrows said.

Mercy Air Services officials are in the process of identifying airports where its operation can transfer, said Roy Cox, Mercy Air's program director.

"At this point, it would be difficult for us to move to San Bernardino because it is a large piece of barren ground, and we need to have a physical building we can move into with hangars and office space," Cox said.

Councilman Ed Scott said Rialto officials are committed to relocating tenants to the best location possible.

"There have been a few glitches, but we are definitely committed to helping every tenant to relocate," Scott said.

Councilman Joe Baca Jr. said the tenants' relocation and completion of Renaissance Rialto will allow the city to flourish and grow economically.

"I think the project will help change the image of the city," Baca said.



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