The City of San Bernardino held a ceremony Monday to commemorate the demolition of the downtown Carousel Mall, which since it’s closing six years ago has been a breeding ground for all sorts of illegal activity.  

Officials expect the demolition to take about two weeks as workers destroy the 43-acre mall piece by piece, with thousands of new commercial and residential units replacing the defunct structure over the next several years.  

Frank Perez, the founder of ReWritten, a nonprofit that mentors kids from first grade through college and is based out of the historic Enterprise Building in downtown San Bernardino, told KTLA that the location of the organization’s headquarters has posed challenges.  

“We’re up on the third floor,” Perez said. “So, when we have young people in our spaces that are here for mentoring and academic support, the challenges we have had is not letting them get too close to windows because we’ve seen transients doing drugs, engaging in inappropriate activities that are in and out of the mall.”  

Built in the 1970’s, the Carousel Mall closed in 2017 and has been a magnet for crime and other problems, like multiple fires, fatal shootings and even a deadly electrocution

“When we first got the building, the mall was just closing its doors,” Ryan Stanly, Enterprise Building Creative Director, told KTLA. “Since they closed, people have broken in to vandalize the mall and steal a lot of the electrical and plumbing.”  

  • Carousel Mall demolition
  • Carousel Mall demolition
  • Carousel Mall demolition

On Monday, city leaders and dozens of community members gathered to celebrate the demolition of the embattled mall, a move that many feel should have come long ago.  

“That was huge for us because it’s really the first initial steps to really create progress in our downtown, 43 acres of property that is just now sitting with a vacant building,” San Bernardino Mayor Helen Tran said.  

The mayor told KTLA that the process of demolition and construction will go in phases, though the project has faced several setbacks. The assistant director of the Department of Housing and Community Development alleged that the city violated the state’s surplus land act, which requires local agencies to first offer surplus land for sale or lease to affordable housing developers.  

“We have until May 15 to address that piece and once that’s addressed, we do have plans to remedy and cure it, then we go into the next phases,” Mayor Tran said. 

Many are now hopeful for the future of downtown San Bernardino.  

“I love San Bernardino,” Perez said. “I love downtown. I think there’s a lot of good that can come from this.”