A new Target store could be among six so-called major tenants, six areas of smaller shops, three fast-food eateries and two sit-down restaurants planned for a new 300,000-square-foot retail center in southwest Bakersfield.
The Panama Grove Retail Center, at 6501 Gosford Road, at the southwest corner of Gosford Road and Panama Lane, comes to the Bakersfield Planning Commission on Thursday night for approval of its planned development review.
A fifth Bakersfield location for Target, the discount retailer whose stores are coveted by developers nationwide, isn't a certainty, but Planning Director Jim Eggert cited renderings provided by Intertex Properties LLC of Valencia as evidence the merchant will materialize.
"The only reason we know that, on the Target, we've got renderings that show their signage. That's kind of a no-brainer. It's not like a big, red target is indicative of somebody" else, Eggert said.
Representatives of Intertex did not respond to requests for comment.
A spokeswoman for Target said in an email that she had "no information to share" about a potential new store.
Eggert said he was unaware of any other potential tenants in the proposed shopping center.
Bakersfield Planning Commissioner Justin Batey, who represents the area where the 334,202-square-foot shopping center would be built, hailed the development as evidence of the city's rebound from recession.
"I think that's going to be a really major intersection, Gosford and Panama, as the houses start to build out. You can see construction is starting up again out there," Batey said. "It definitely seems like we've done a complete 180. It seems like oil and agriculture have spurred that turnaround."
A Dallas-based location consultant to banks and retailers said he agrees.
"I would think it would certainly be a good indicator. They've been doing their homework, and they've been doing five-year plans on all of these second-tier markets," said Gary Weber of Weber Realty Research. "They know they have a void."
City staff recommends approval of plans for the northern 32 acres of the 50-acre site.
If a Target is built, it would represent the realization of a longtime hope by developers to land one of its stores in the area.
Gosford Village, a shopping center slightly farther north, at Harris and Gosford roads, was previously approved for a Target store, but the store was never built.
"In fact, we actually spoke with them before the downturn, but they have chosen, I guess, to negotiate somewhere else," said Scott Thayer, senior vice president of operations and land development for Castle & Cooke, which is adding a Chipotle, a General Nutrition Center, and a Sprint Wireless store to Gosford Village. "I wish we were negotiating with them for another center, because they are a very good tenant."