A $900 million mixed-use development in California is officially underway. On Tuesday, Pannatoni Development Co. held a groundbreaking ceremony for its massive Piemonte at the Ontario Center project. The 1 million sq. ft. mixed-use project is being developed in Ontario, Calif., which is located in the heart of California’s booming Inland Empire region.

“Piemonte at The Ontario Center will meet the pent-up demand for an upscale integrated lifestyle center in this rapidly evolving region, where Southern California residents can live, work, shop, dine, mingle and relax,” says Pannatoni partner Jeff Phelan. “In addition to serving the local population, we predict it will become a regional draw that will continue to support Ontario as the new urban center for commerce, business and entertainment.”

When completed in 2008, the center will include roughly 500,000 sq. ft. of retail space and 268,000 sq. ft. of Class-A office space. A 256-room full-service hotel will also be developed on the site. The project will be developed in several phases over the next two years.

In a strategic partnership with the City of Ontario Redevelopment Agency, Panattoni purchased the land for $26 million in 2004. The city’s investment in the Italian-themed Inland Empire destination and lifestyle venue is expected to generate $7 to $8 million in annual revenues.

According to CB Richard Ellis, which will handle leasing and sales at the future development, Piemonte will benefit from the more than 1 million employees and more than 2.6 million residents located within a 20-mile radius of the project. With immediate accessibility from the I-10 and I-15 freeways and high profile visibility along I-10, Piemonte will also draw from the 21 million annual customer base of neighboring Ontario Mills, deemed one of the most successful malls in the country. The project will also benefit from its proximity to LA-Ontario International Airport, the second busiest airport in Southern California and the preferred airport for business travelers.

“The City of Ontario’s vision for an urban lifestyle center and regional destination venue that will raise the standard for future development in our community while also tapping into the rich history of the land has been perfectly translated by Panattoni Development Co.,” says Ontario Mayor Paul S. Leon.

Adds Mayor Leon: “This premier mixed-use neighborhood in the hub of Ontario’s primary business area will cater to our city’s changing demographic through quality housing, retail, restaurant and entertainment amenities geared for contemporary families, upwardly mobile professionals and executives.”