Is it just me, or is the new headquarters of Kern Health Systems, the building going up on Buck Owens Boulevard just across Sillect Road from the Crystal Palace, uncomfortably and unnecessarily close to the iconic BAKERSFIELD arch?
The yellow-and-blue arch, which Owens re-created next to his dinner house-concert venue-museum 20 years ago, after the original Union Avenue footbridge was demolished, has become something of a landmark. The arch, visible from northbound 99, has been featured in countless advertisements and after-dinner group selfies.
But the KHS building, which will be considerably taller than the tourist attraction across the road, will practically be photo-bombing those selfies. Its southern wall appears to be a scant 30 feet from the arch's north-side footing.
I still can't figure out why KHS didn't want to build near Adventist Health or Dignity Health, where other medical clinics and services, affiliated and not, have sprung up. For reasons not clear to me, KHS prefers entertainment districts: The agency originally wanted to build on city land at California and P/Q, at the south end of Mill Creek, but the City Council wisely rejected the idea. Now KHS is building in the city's other emerging entertainment district, a short distance from Temblor Brewing, BLVD and the Palace.
Why? And why so close to the arch? Not that anyone can do anything about it now.
My calls to KHS Friday weren't returned.
My question: Why did the city approve this plan? KHS headquarters ought to be somewhere other than this part of Buck Owens Boulevard, but at the very least the configuration should have been reversed: The new building's adjacent parking lot ought to have been on the south, Sillect side of the lot, where the arch would still have ample breathing room.
Instead the parking lot is on the north side, leaving the multi-story building on the south, where it will completely block out the view of the arch from north and diminish its impact from any angle.
Robert Price's column appears Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @stubblebuzz. The opinions expressed are his own.