Mark Nessia 

It’s amazing what can be accomplished in a year’s time.

What used to be empty lots are now home to new businesses, homes and future developments.

When I first came to Bakersfield 10 years ago, I drove past the dirt lot across from the Town & Country Village shopping center on Stockdale Highway and Coffee Road regularly on my way to CSU Bakersfield. On Nov. 29, the first of several businesses began operation as Cafe Rio opened its doors to customers. The new Stockdale center will also house a Sully’s Chevron, Blaze Pizza, Jersey Mike’s and possibly more.

In mid-2015, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in downtown Bakersfield for what would become a 44-unit luxury apartment complex. The first tenants moved in at the end of 2016 and several months later, the compound was fully leased. Now work is being done just a few blocks down the road as The Lofts on 18th are in progress.

To the west, one of the most highly anticipated projects, Bakersfield Commons, is scheduled to begin construction in 2018. The “pedestrian-oriented, master-planned mixed-use community” is in response to the shifts in the retail world that gives consumers something they can’t get shopping online at home: an experience. When the Commons are completed, it will become a social hub for those looking to meet friends, take in a movie, have a spa day and more. The approach is similar to the revitalization of the East Hills Mall set to begin in 2019 to turn it into a 345,000-square-foot “open-air” center featuring stores, restaurants and a movie theater. Read more about the projects set to change the local retail experience by John Cox on Page 8.

Bass Pro Shops, after a decade of speculation, announced its intention to come to Kern County, building a 100,000-square-foot store to anchor an 800,000-square-foot mixed-retail center known as Bakersfield Gateway on the northeast corner of Hosking Avenue and Highway 99. It will be the retailer’s fifth location in California and the only store between Manteca and Rancho Cucamonga.

On the residential side, Castle & Cooke continues to leave its mark on the community as it further develops its latest community — Highgate — and the retail centers around the area, including The Shops at River Walk and Gosford Village. Castle & Cooke has been a leader in developing private gated communities and retail destinations, perfecting its master-planning approach that provides beautiful residential neighborhoods that are mere moments away from shopping and dining destinations.

These are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the exciting developments and additions taking place locally and it’s exciting to see what developers continue to bring to the once vacant spaces in the area.

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