Retail: Duane Keathley is one of the smartest folks in town on the subject of commercial real estate, and Tuesday I spent an hour picking his brain on "First Look with Scott Cox." Some factoids from my conversation with the senior partner at Cushman Wakefield: At one point the first Dollar General store on North Chester and China Grade Loop was one of the highest-performing stores in the chain; Panama Lane west of Highway 99 is set to explode with new retail over the next few years; East Hills Mall is "in play" as the new owners decide whether to raze it or revive part of it; there is new retail planned for Brimhall and Allen roads; and the average size of a BevMo! (beer and wine retailer) is about the size of Trader Joe's. And finally, at one point the relatively new Golden Corral on Ming Avenue was the No. 2-performing outlet in the chain.
More retail: Reader Joe Chavez wrote asking if there are plans by any big retailers to set up shop in the northeast. According to Keathley, likely not. Most of them are looking west and southwest, where the average incomes are higher and there is more "day traffic," meaning more places of employment where workers may shop at lunch or after work.
It looks like there may be a breakthrough on immigration reform. News reports say the House Republican leadership will be holding a three-day retreat during which Speaker John Boehner will issue his position on including a path to citizenship or legal status for illegal immigrants, along with tighter border security. This is a huge issue in California, of course, where the political pressure has been intense on House Republicans to get something done. Protests at the local office of House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy have become an almost weekly event, but it remains to be seen if the new Republican stance is enough for a true breakthrough with the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Drought: The drought being played out in California is serious stuff, and now it looks like the Republicans are using it as a political issue. Central Valley Republicans hosted House Speaker John Boehner last week to criticize environmental laws that divert water from farmers to endangered species. As Boehner said, putting fish over people is a "crazy idea" where he comes from. As the drought intensifies there is little doubt that House Republicans will continue to seize on it as a hot issue. Stay tuned.
More drought: On the local front, you may have noticed the GET buses wrapped with messages encouraging water conservation. It's all part of a campaign by the nonprofit Water Association of Kern County to encourage water conservation. The six buses will run for six months and they advertise a website -- www.wakc.com -- where people can find lots of ways to conserve water.
Richard Beene is president and CEO of The Bakersfield Californian. He blogs at www.bakersfieldobserved.com. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.