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Dolores Huerta might be a citizen of the world, but she still calls Bakersfield home.

The Dolores Huerta Foundation is undertaking a $20 million fundraising effort to build a community cultural center near 21st and H streets downtown on property owned by the Self-Help Credit Union. A San Diego architectural firm is designing plans, and fundraising efforts have begun.

According to the architectural site plan, the Dolores Huerta Peace and Justice Center will include a two-story, 36,400-square-foot cultural center and offices of the Dolores Huerta Foundation; a plaza and amphitheater; a single-story, two-classroom, 3,100-square-foot day care building and adjacent day care playground; and a two-story, 8,000-square-foot Self-Help Credit Union branch.

The property is right across H Street from the Bakersfield Fire Department's Station No. 1 and a block north of the Historic Fox Theater.

The fundraising effort has already reached 5 percent of its goal, according to the foundation's executive director, Camila Chavez. The California Endowment has given $700,000 and the AIDS Foundation has pledged $300,000, contingent on a matching gift. One million dollars down, $19 million to go.

"We'll have dance classes, music classes, art classes, digital studios — we're going to make all that a big component of the cultural center," Chavez said. "When Dolores was a girl, all of that was part of the school day. I'm a product of the 1980s, and those things were just eliminated when I was in school. They're so important."

Rodriguez Associates Architects & Planners Inc. of San Diego is the architect. Efforts to reach Rodriguez Associates last week were unsuccessful.

Assistant Bakersfield City Manager Jacqui Kitchen confirmed that city staff members have had "several discussions" with the principals.

"City staff has met with the developer to look at preliminary designs for the site and offer feedback," she wrote in a text message. "However, no formal plans or permits have been submitted to the city. (It's in the) early stages ... but promising. It's a great location and Self-Help has been looking for the right fit for some time."

THE TIMELINE

● June 2020: Acquisition and initial land use improvements on the entire city block bordered by H, Eye, 21st and 22nd streets.

● September 2020: Begin construction of a 36,400-square-foot cultural center and an 8,000-square-foot credit union branch.

● October 2021: Grand opening of cultural center, credit union branch and two-classroom day care serving a minimum of 50 children.

● Winter 2022: Complete build-out of mixed-use, open-air, 20,000-square-foot amphitheater.

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