Bakersfield, California 2021-09-19 20:00:00 –
Forgotten retail space is about to get more attention under one of the city’s new economic development strategies.
City staff are planning to check the availability of local stores and then select one or more properties for a demonstration project, perhaps downtown or formerly East Hills Mall.
Part of the idea is to pursue zoning and policy changes during future updates of the city’s general plan.
The initiative was passed by a 4-0 vote in the city council on Wednesday, raising new interest in redeveloping unused old commercial real estate, and in some cases housing, along with dozens of other strategies.
Proponents are looking at other possible reuses such as offices, entertainment, distribution work, workforce training, mixed-use, and more.
“I think there are many ways to go in these old big box retail spaces,” said the family, turning a former downtown retail property into a home and servicing the city’s historic tight rental market. Said Bob Smith, a fourth ward council member who offers. He voted in favor of the new economic plan.
Anthony Olivieri, a commercial real estate broker and investor at Bakersfield, said compatibility concerns and consideration for real estate owners could complicate the effort. Rather than adopting a “one size for everything” approach, it’s important to work on the project individually, he said in an email. He added that a set of basic rules could work.
Olivieri predicted that the details could be awkward due to the differences that sometimes occur in mixed-use. But he agreed that the city’s success would bring great benefits to the community.
“There is no doubt that something needs to happen in a shopping center that has undergone dramatic changes in the market and is somewhat obsolete, or is functionally obsolete due to changing retail environments and retailer needs. “He writes.
A strategic document approved by the council proposes to define candidate retail buildings as buildings with long-term vacancy rates of 15% or higher, especially those with closed anchors or less use.
It requires measuring the market to choose possible real estate reuse. Taxpayer money is invested in high-priority regional infrastructure. Financial analysis determines the projects to sell to developers. To further support this effort, zoning and other land-use policy changes will be proposed as part of the general plan update.
The plan specifically mentions the possibility of diversion of East Hills Mall, which was sold to a private developer in June. Dismantling has begun, but its intended reuse has not been finalized.
City officials cited other projects in the same spirit. Amazon’s distribution centers are located on Wilson Road’s former K-Mart and Big Lots, just west of Highway 99. Smith’s Eastchester Rental Tower by Sage Equity. Opposite the Padre Hotel, Bitwise Industries’ two technology and coworking hubs are redevelopment projects that have themselves benefited from city loans.
Paul Sardanha, director of economic and community development at Bakersfield, said the location has not yet been decided, but the pilot project could be a multipurpose development where the city contacts real estate owners about the possibility of reuse. There is sex.
Many commercial properties around Bakersfield have been left empty for years. According to Sardanha, the decline of shopping centers is striking because they were already suffering from consumer shifts before the pandemic increased online shopping.
Second District Assembly member Andrae Gonzales confirmed his support for the reuse of retail buildings, especially in downtown. He said in an email that there are some underutilized structures in the area.
“At the same time, the need for housing (both affordable and marketable) continues to grow,” he writes. “We need to encourage adaptive use.”
Roger Dale of Yorba Linda’s Natelson Dale Group, a consultant who presented a strategic plan to the council, said that changing retail conditions probably meant that the process of retail diversion would continue for years, and to act aggressively now. He said it might make sense.
“The idea is like being ahead of the curve in a potential surplus land in the future and ready to use it in a way that benefits real estate owners and the community.” He said.
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