On June 17, more than 80 guests gathered for the unveiling of the University Station pavilion, a handsome structure that will help welcome visitors to the University of Redlands and its surroundings from the new Arrow line train route. The Arrow line will begin service in early 2022.
“Brian Bloom’s architectural features of the station pavilion you see now—the distinctive cupola, the dentil moldings and columns, a tile roof, and even the analog Roman numeral clock—complement the signature features of the main Redlands campus,” said President Ralph W. Kuncl to the audience, which included local dignitaries, numerous partners on the Arrow line rail project, and friends of the University. “The result is a totally identifiable, welcoming, and seamless gateway to the University.”
Event emcee University Trustee Carole Beswick and KESQ news producer Evan Sanford ’17 both noted in their remarks that the rail station was a key part of Kuncl’s vision from the beginning of his presidency. In his 2013 inauguration speech, Kuncl envisioned an incoming U of R student stepping off the train to a progressive South Campus, surrounded by a vibrant University Village.
While the 30-acre mixed-use University Village will take several years to complete, planning is under way and the University-sponsored platform provides a centerpiece for that development.
“The surrounding University Village will grow to be a social and cultural hub, becoming a destination point for the Redlands community and the greater Los Angeles region,” says Kuncl, who envisions a sustainable civic and commercial home to residences, a boutique hotel, shops, a food hall, an upscale restaurant for fine dining, green space, and more. “The economic development of University Village will also be a source of revenue that will help support everything the University does to offer a personalized education to our students while creating one of the best neighborhoods in Redlands.”
The power of partnerships
The platform unveiling event was held at the University’s Black Box Theatre, providing a clear view of the new station, which was decorated in maroon and grey bunting for the occasion.
Beswick, a longtime proponent of the rail project, opened the event by recalling the first proposal of the train in the 1980s, when she served as mayor of Redlands. “Seeing this longtime project come to life gives me hope and speaks volumes of the power of partnership,” said Beswick.
While the station pavilion was sponsored by the University, the larger rail project is a public-private partnership involving the City of Redlands, the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, Metrolink, and the California Transportation Commission.
Kuncl expressed gratitude to the partners making the rail line possible, describing its transformative impact. “The new Arrow Line will connect the University, the City of Redlands, and all of Southern California, making it easy for prospective students to visit our campus and for current students to take advantage of professional opportunities across the entire region.”
In addition to Architect Brian R. Bloom and KAR Construction, Kuncl recognized Trustees Bob Oda ‘69, Bill Cahill, and Beswick; Cabinet members Kevin Dyerly '00, '04 and Michelle Rogers '19; Life Trustee Pat Morris '59; and University administrators Roger Cellini, Jason Doyle, and Jordan Henk for their collective leadership and efforts.
Sanford ’17, who revived KDAWG Radio and hosted Inside the Studio with Evan Sanford during his years as a U of R student, shared how he did not have a car when he was a U of R student and traveled by train and other public transit to visit his family. “This station will mean the world to so many people,” said Sanford, who recalled how Kuncl once dropped him off at the distant San Bernardino train station so he could visit his dying grandfather.
Assembly Member James Ramos ‘09, representing California’s 40th district, spoke of the project’s ability to bring together the community. Ramos recognized the Rail to Redlands working group that allowed the voices of many stakeholders to be heard during the planning process and proudly cited the rail, which will be the first zero-emission train in the United States, as a model.
“We stayed committed to this dream and did not give up,” says Ramos. “This is just the beginning, as we keep dreaming and moving forward.”
Executive Director Ray Wolfe spoke on behalf of the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, applauding Kuncl’s leadership and reiterating the partnership between the many agencies. Redlands Mayor Paul Barich extended thanks on behalf of the city, citing the special “town and gown” relationship.
Several speakers also commented on the beauty of the pavilion.
“It is a spectacular addition to the community,” says Beswick, “and if there were an award for the best-looking rail station on the Metrolink line, this would be it!”