More than 100 residents took a look at the latest plans and renderings to revitalize downtown on Thursday, and most seemed to like what they saw.
Making Downtown Bakersfield, a coalition between the California High-Speed Rail Authority and the City of Bakersfield, introduced about 140 people to several plans, which included developing Wall Street as a pedestrian corridor from Mill Creek to the downtown core.
Renderings of what Bakersfield could look like in 20 to 30 years show increased development with high-rises and apartments. These later development plans focus on the areas of F Street and Garces Circle in preparation for a high-speed rail station — the city's preferred location for it being on F Street.
Another potential site — near the Amtrak station on Truxtun Avenue — has also been studied. No final decision has been made.
"Whether or not there is a high-speed rail, this plan is important for us to implement," Ward 2 City Councilman Andrae Gonzales said.
As Bakersfield is the ninth largest city in California, Gonzales said, "Our downtown should reflect who we are as a people."
The plan focuses on developing an area bordered by the Kern River and 38th Street to the north, California Avenue to the south, and between Union Avenue and F Street.
The latest renderings were more detailed than previous ones, showing the density of living and retail spaces that people have asked for. However, it is still not the final product.
"It looks too modern," Mary Helen Barro, 79, said during the presentation. "I like old-fashioned."
One of the renderings depicted pedestrians and bicyclists using Wall Street to cross Chester Avenue, which included a clock tower in the median.
"I'm very excited," she said, "but what I'm afraid (is) I didn't hear preservation enough."
She said she doesn't want to see architectural treasures demolished or sent to a museum.
"I want to leave them in place and enhance them," she said. "Modern buildings to me have no soul."
Last year, the city held 11 vision workshops before holding an initial development strategy meeting with the public in August, which attracted about 125 attendees. The Thursday open house was the second community meeting.
"This is one of our last opportunities to check (that) we're heading in the right directions with this plan," said project consultant Gunnar Hand.
The public submitted comment cards or recorded their comments. Hand encouraged people who wanted to think about it to submit comments through the city website makingdowntownbakersfield.us.
Once the plan is finalized, it will go to the Planning Commission, expected late this summer, and to the city council in the fall.