Hemet, CA’s downtown revitalization to accelerate by restoring historic buildings

Hemet is a city of about 79,000 people in the San Jacinto Valley in Riverside County, California, United States. Covering an area of 27.8 square miles, it takes up half the valley.

The founding of Hemet predates the formation of Riverside County. The formation of Lake Hemet by a dam helped the city to grow, and stimulated agriculture in the area. The city is known for being the home of The Ramona Pageant, California’s official outdoor play. Started in 1923, the play is one of the longest running outdoor plays in the United States. Hemet has been named a Tree City USA for 20 years by the Arbor Day Foundation for its dedication to the local forest.

The dream of revitalizing downtown Hemet, California into the hub of San Jacinto Valley activity, as it was in the late 1800s and early 1900s, is finally becoming a reality today as downtown pedestrians grow more numerous.

Spurring on the increased foot traffic is the expansion of the popular Downtown Deli and the Diamond Valley Arts Council studio and stage. Behind much of this revitalization is an active Hemet City economic development staff, the Hemet/San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce, young entrepreneur Steve Covington, and downtown commercial landowner Simon Chu.

Covington, who owns the rapidly expanding Downtown Deli and Coffee Company, recently revealed that he’s partnering with Chu to redesign many of the historic downtown buildings that have withstood the ravages of time since the 1880s. They are hoping to bring downtown Hemet to its past glory.

Hemet’s downtown revitalization has now begun to follow the vision of the city’s Downtown Hemet Specific Plan. The primary objectives are to preserve and enhance the historic core, recommend appropriate transit oriented land uses, improve access to the station and linkages around Downtown, and create an attractive, pedestrian-friendly and sustainable Downtown environment that is a vibrant community hub for civic, social, cultural, and employment activities.

The 360 acre (58 block) Downtown Specific Plan Area is generally located in the central portion of the City between Gilbert Street on the west, and Santa Fe Street on the east, Oakland Avenue on the north, and Acacia Avenue on the south. The Specific Plan area contains the historic commercial core of the City, which was established in the early 1900’s, and also includes the Civic Center, Public Library, historic Hemet Stock Farm, Hemet Elementary School and the Santa Fe Educational Center, a variety of historic residential neighborhoods, and large portions of vacant land along the existing railroad right-of-way.

Photo of downtown Hemet by Thomas via Wikipedia.

See full Valley News article by Tony Ault.

See Downtown Hemet Specific Plan.

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