Some communities in southern California planned their distinctive styles early in their development. When San Clemente permitted only Spanish Style buildings it created an awesome Mediterranean backdrop for those approaching the city by sea. Downtown Riverside reflects the Mission Inn. Claremont evolved its character from the seven college consortium. Upland framed the path to Mount Baldy with pepper trees and stately homes along Euclid Ave. Pasadena replaced all the building facades on the west end of Colorado Blvd with the European Nouveau styles popular in 1924 when they widened the street. These plans not only created communities that are a pleasant place to live but they established a uniqueness that continues to draw tourists.
It's high time we developed long range plans on the High Desert. Hesperia lost its best opportunity for quaintness when it allowed the historic brick hotel on the Santa Fe tracks to be demolished. We seem to have given up on developing an Old Town, turning our attention instead to soliciting retailers that want to anchor large blocks of developed land. We're accumulating structures that have nothing unique to offer except the address.
At a minimum we should require that new buildings be attractive and identifiable to the intended use. Hesperia Horizon publishes information about businesses that are coming into town. But locating these during the construction phase requires guessing because our buildings are designed for adaptability. Many are in nondescript single-story strip-malls. Sometimes tenants are not finalized until after construction is finished causing vacant buildings without signage to arouse fears of overdevelopment.
The incursion of new construction makes speculators of us all. The land speculators are making profits and residents are speculating about who is coming into our neighborhoods. Large structures might be adaptable as movie houses, supermarkets, hotels, big-box stores or the ever-promised fire station. We can locate the Colton piano site because of signage and perhaps the ice rink will be identifiable because of its unique plumbing needs. Hopefully, neither of these buildings will be as ugly as the monstrosity across the freeway. Even when broken into units, the Amargosa structure seems overly optimistic for commercial or industrial use unless the city is planning an indoor mall, roofed sports arena, or to construct a Skunk Works variety intercontinental super bomber. It surpasses in ugliness the County road equipment shed on Mariposa.
An intriguing excavation started the construction at the Gateway on Main Street. It could be the foundation of a high-rise building, an underground bank vault, or to hold gasoline storage tanks for another station in a block that already has two. A drive-thru suggests fast foods; but banks, drug stores, cleaners, parking kiosks and entrances to amusement parks also have drive-thru features. A combination of both elements suggests a gas station with fast food, or a bank with a Starbucks, or if we were planning for the future, professional offices with underground parking. Two additional structures on the site complicate the guessing game. A possibility commends for outside restrooms and a car wash. If that turns out to be what was planned for this site, I'm encouraged to see that the hole that was excavated when construction began will be used for gasoline storage tanks and not one of the outbuildings.
We don't see many Build-to-Suit-Tenant signs. Buildings rise before potential occupants are determined. When a structure appears to have service bay sections, we suppose that another Pep Boys or America's Tires is coming to town. But, service bays are not the only use for partitions. Sometimes these are removable separation walls that create versatile buildings that could be leased to various types of retail clients. Alternately, it may be space for the next postal substation, cleaners, video store, pizza place, hair salon, family restaurant, or store-front church. It's good for business to have adaptable options but, what versatility shows us is that there is more emphasis on improving the value of the particular property than in attracting a particular new business that may be needed to provide services to those living in the community.
Hesperia's serendipity growth can't be dignified as having a characteristic style or theme. We devolved from a rural desert into clusters of retail-use buildings with generic architecture.