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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA-The 1.3 million-sf Victoria Gardens opens its doors officially today, with the combination shopping venue and city center ranking as one of the largest ever to be developed in the Inland Empire and one of the largest shopping venues to open this year in the country.

The open air and entertainment property along the I-15 Freeway near Foothill Boulevard is a project of Cleveland’s Forest City Enterprises and the Upland-based Lewis Group of Cos. that has been developed in a public-private partnership with the City of Rancho Cucamonga. It is anchored by JCPenney, Macy’s, Robinsons-May, AMC Theatres and the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center, which consists of a library, a 530-seat performing arts center and a Celebration Hall for public use.

Besides the anchors, the tenant roster includes some 120 other stores and restaurants. Among these are Borders, Williams-Sonoma’s Pottery Barn, an Apple Computer Store, The Gap, California Pizza Kitchen, Johnny Rockets and a host of other national and regional operators, including some that are making their Inland Empire debut.

Rancho Cucamonga city officials are banking on Victoria Gardens, which is about 95% leased, to serve as a town center and as a catalyst for other nearby development, which has already occurred with the opening this week of a 315,000-sf power center called Foothill Crossing that Los Angeles-based developer O&S Holdings has created on a 50-acre parcel across the street from the 147-acre Victoria Gardens site.

The O&S development includes a 180,000-sf Sears Grand store that anchors the center, along with other national retailers like CompUSA and Ortho Mattress. City officials also cite the general economic impact of the Victoria Gardens development, noting that more than 2,500 applicants attended an August job fair sponsored by Rancho Cucamonga, other government entities and the management of the Victoria Gardens.

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