The city of Lancaster and InSite Development recently joined together to announce the next chapter in the evolution of The BLVD. A number of innovative concepts and big-name brands are slated to become part of downtown Lancaster’s new and inviting downtown corridor.
“Since the streetscape project was completed in 2010, The BLVD has transformed from a resurgent downtown into a vibrant, thriving urban core,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “Yet even in those few short years, our world has changed. The needs and wants of our community have evolved. This next phase in the development of The BLVD takes into account those needs and seeks to provide all residents and visitors to the Antelope Valley, from Millennials on up, an array of exciting and unique experiences right here in Lancaster.”
Perhaps the most significant change to The BLVD will be the addition of a newly constructed Marriott Residence Inn. The five-story, 105-room hotel will be located on the northwest corner of Gadsden Avenue and Lancaster Boulevard, adjacent to the recently opened Starbucks. The hotel will feature a rooftop pool, a high-end lobby and podium parking.
“Marriott Residence Inn is the number one performing select-service extended-stay hotel brand in the world. They do not simply hand out these franchises without performing thorough research into the city as well as the particular area it will be located,” said Steve Eglash, partner of InSite Development. “Our research shows that people who stay at these hotels want to walk to dinner and entertainment, not drive. I wish I could snap my fingers and have it built today.”
Another significant addition to the downtown’s new attractions will be a Regency Theatre, which will take over the space used by the former BLVD Cinema. Renovation of the theatre has already begun and is expected to include new state-of-the-art electric reclining chairs and other upgrades to the tune of a $150,000 overhaul. Regency already operates 19 theatres throughout Southern California.
The Forge department store space will be divided into smaller independent spaces to allow for more commercial opportunities to capitalize on the resurgence of commerce along The BLVD.
The BeX Bar & Grill Complex, which has for many years been one of the premier night spots for food and entertainment in downtown Lancaster, will undergo a complete transformation beginning in January 2018. RoShamBo Lounge will transform into “Buckles & Boots,” a live country music venue modeled on perennially popular country western bars in locations such as San Diego’s Gaslamp District and Pasadena’s Old Town District. The Underground Bowling Lounge will receive a number of upgrades as well as a menu change to enhance its birthday, corporate and holiday party business. BeX Bar & Grill will become Don Sal’s Mexican Restaurant, an upscale cantina relocating from nearby Kern County.
“We are always looking for new ways to heighten the experience of The BLVD,” said Scott Ehrlich, partner of InSite Development. “We did a broad search to find fresh new concepts that will complement and enrich downtown Lancaster’s nightlife opportunities, while also expanding the selection of dining and entertainment venues for our visitors.”
After speaking to many people who visit The BLVD, the developers determined the consensus was that a high-end Mexican kitchen and cantina would be the perfect addition to add more energy to The BLVD. With the recent addition of Starbucks and now a Marriott Residence Inn, Regency Theatres, and Buckles & Boots, the downtown area is expected to shine as a top dining and entertainment destination. All three concepts will have distinctive new unique menus, offering a variety of dining and entertainment options within the same complex. “The BLVD is no longer a community secret,” added Ehrlich.
“All of these new additions will join existing pillars such as Kinetic Brewing Company and Pour d’Vino to lend a more eclectic and urban flavor to The BLVD’s nightlife,” said Tim Anders, co-owner of BeX and past president of The BLVD Association. “The BLVD has long been a gathering place for the Antelope Valley, a place where you can experience a true sense of community. We are looking to build on that firm foundation to create new opportunities to not only enjoy a great night out, but to connect with one another – all in a fresh and upscale setting.”
At the announcement, Parris took the opportunity to thank Scott Ehrlich, Steve Eglash, and the entire InSite Development team crediting them with the success that downtown Lancaster has already become as a result of their vision, investment, and partnership with the city of Lancaster
The mayor also acknowledged small business owners Tim Anders and Dorian Salazar of BeX, Underground Bowl and the lounge, who have consistently been supporters of The BLVD and the entire community, re-investing their time and money to help make Lancaster a better place.
“They all continue to work every day to improve our BLVD,” said Parris.
Regency Theatres is slated to open this month, while Bex will remain open through the end of 2017. Renovations will then take place throughout the month of January. Ehrlich expects to have “Buckles & Boots” open by Super Bowl weekend. “At this point, the only thing The BLVD will be missing is high-end market rate apartments and condos. stay tuned,” he hinted.
“On the heels of celebrating our 40th year of incorporation, we are definitely kicking off 2018 in style,” said Lancaster Vice Mayor Marvin Crist. “Scott and his team are extremely dynamic, and have proven that they are more than capable of taking an idea and producing successful ventures within a very short period of time. With these changes, our vision for The BLVD has come to fruition better than ever before. It is not only the Entertainment Capital of the Antelope Valley; it is a place where friends meet, businesses thrive and the community comes together as one.”
Since The BLVD was renovated in 2010, more than 60 businesses have either opened or relocated to the thriving downtown area. The BLVD has been recognized with a number of state, national, and even international awards, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Award for Smart Growth Achievement and the International Downtown Association’s Pinnacle Award. In addition, The BLVD was recently named a California Cultural District, a distinction bestowed upon only 14 destinations throughout the state.
“We pride ourselves on being a ‘city of firsts,’ and an innovative leader in a number of civic matters,” added city of Lancaster Council member Raj Malhi. “The announcement of these major additions further solidify the city of Lancaster as a premier destination for young professionals, as well as families of all ages.”
The city continuously strives to make all residents of Lancaster feel included and have a sense of ownership in their own city and the BLVD is no exception. Residents and business owners alike have the opportunity to make a piece of the revitalized BLVD their very own. Through The BLVD Community Program, members of the community have the chance to sponsor a tree or banner in the heart of Lancaster’s downtown area.
For community members interested in tree sponsorship along the BLVD they will be recognized with a custom-designed sign which will be placed with the sponsored tree. Sponsors may be private individuals, businesses, families, and non-profit organizations and sponsorship of each tree is $500 and includes a duplicate plaque of the one planted with the tree as a keepsake or gift for an individual being honored.
The city created the “Hometown Hero Banner Program” in an effort to celebrate local military heroes who have served our nation to maintain our freedom. Family members and friends nominated these individuals whose pictures are prominently featured along The BLVD to show our thanks for their tireless efforts for this country.
This year the Banner Program has been expanded to include local exemplary students (nominated by school counselors and teachers) and artwork (chosen by the Lancaster Museum of Art and History curator). Nominations will be taken every six months.
For more information about The BLVD, as well as downtown businesses and events, visit theblvdlancaster.com. Follow The BLVD on Facebook at facebook.com/theblvdlancaster for frequent updates on the changes coming to downtown Lancaster.