The story of Stockdale Tower, Bakersfield’s tallest building, is entering a whole new chapter and the authors intend to make it a page-turner.

After years of uncertainty, punctuated by foreclosure and bankruptcy, the 12-story office building on California Avenue has been sold, raising hopes that one of the city’s most iconic structures will remain a vital local center of commerce and industry for years to come — only better.

The sale of the 177,000-square-foot building, as well as its 98,000-square-oot sister building, and a four-story parking structure nearby, signals a change in management and a new approach to the business complex that is expected to bring significant improvements, said Jeff Andrew, the Cushman & Wakefield senior director and principal who brokered the deal.

The price paid for the property is confidential, Andrew said, but industry insiders say the complex sold for nearly $40 million.

Like the Beale Clock Tower, the Bakersfield sign and other local landmarks, the oft-photographed tower has, over the years, become associated with the city itself, Andrew said. Many have enjoyed the panoramic view from the Petroleum Club restaurant on the top floor. As such, the building’s success or failure may reflect on the larger community.

The tower, owned since 2013 by real estate investment giant LNR Property, was sold to a joint venture partnership between Cardinal Equities and the David Pick Family Partnership.

And the new owners are all-in, Andrew said. They are determined to spend the time, effort and dollars it will take to transform the already high-profile complex into a premier location, maybe Bakersfield’s best location for business and medical tenants.

“You drive by every day, but you don’t know unless you’re in the industry,” Andrew said.

This is “a significant project because this building is a symbol of Bakersfield. Therefore, it is important that it be well-maintained and (that it) continues to be leased as a successful office development.”

Andrew believes the city will probably not see another high-rise building like it — maybe ever.

“Based on the availability of land for development in Bakersfield and the cost to construct high-rise buildings of this quality, I believe it’s safe to say there will never be another building over 12 stories built in the city of Bakersfield,” he said.

Peter Cohen, a spokesman for the the joint-venture partnership, recalled coming to Bakersfield for the first time more than a dozen years ago and seeing the tower from a distance as he drove on California Avenue.

“I saw this amazing building stand out from all the others,” he recalled.

It was unique, rising above the others, yet still well-integrated into the city’s mostly low-rise skyline.

“It took a great deal of vision for somebody to build this building.” Cohen said.

And he agreed with Andrew that the chance Bakersfield will see another 12-story or taller building is close to zero, at least for the foreseeable future.

Both buildings were constructed in the early 1980s by Roy Carver of Carver Development for Shell Oil, Andrew said. Much has changed in the intervening years.

Andrew brokered the sale of the tower in the early 2000s to Terry Moreland, but the Bakersfield developer’s tenure was fraught with problems. Moreland filed for bankruptcy for Stockdale Tower 1, LLC, in November 2011. LNR Property foreclosed in 2013.

The buildings have seen periods of low occupancy over their history, and even currently, the 12-story tower is at 70 percent occupancy — including three unoccupied floors — while the smaller building has 88 percent of its office space occupied.

The new owners intend to change that. The full-service fitness center with men’s and women’s locker rooms in the basement of the tower will undergo a complete overhaul, Cohen said, with the addition of first-class equipment and other amenities. Tenants of both buildings will enjoy free membership as well as free use of the parking structure.

In addition, the fountain on the grounds, which has been out of commission for years, will be restored to good working condition.

And to show how serious they are about transforming the property, they’re now offering office space for new tenants at 20 percent under market value.{/span}

“We’re creating an office campus environment so people who work in both buildings can benefit,” Cohen said.

Indeed, it’s been decades since both buildings were under the same ownership, Cohen said, and that provides its own set of benefits — in building management, signage and sharing of amenities.Cohen called the tower “the quintessential office building in Bakersfield,” and said they’re planning an open house to celebrate.

“We’re excited about turning the page of this building,” he said.

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