As we look back, 2018 was a very significant year for the commercial real estate industry in Kern County and Greater Bakersfield that will set the stage for how our community will evolve and where growth will occur over the next 10 to 20 years. The Southern San Joaquin Valley is a market unlike any other in the State of California, as it is both a world-class energy and an agricultural production center, while rapidly becoming a major logistics/distribution hub for the western U.S. region.
One reality, as we look to the future, is that change is inevitable. Those business models that accurately predict and adapt to change will thrive and prosper, setting the stage for generations to come.
That online retail buying trends are taking us in a new direction is clearly evidenced by the decline of major retail brands like Sears, JC Penney and Macy’s — names that have been institutions for consumers over the past century. At the same time, we are witnessing retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target and Costco continue to thrive by offering consumers the most competitive pricing and, in some cases, overnight delivery.
The unique geographic and strategic location of Kern County and Greater Bakersfield as a crossroads of interstate highway and rail commerce led to major commitments in the area by IKEA, Target, Caterpillar, Famous Footwear, L’Oréal, Ross, American Tire and the Wonderful brands. Look for new affordable residential development to continue to move towards the major employment hubs, including south along the Highway 99 corridor and northwest towards Shafter.
A global leader of online retailing recently commenced construction of a 2.6 million+ square foot logistics/fulfillment center north of Merle Haggard Boulevard in the Landings Logistics Center and will have far-reaching impacts on our local community over the next 15 to 20 years. The entire Airport area will benefit from the impact of 2,000+ new employees that will converge on the northern edge of Greater Bakersfield in the fall of 2019. Many new development opportunities will follow for those that commit to delivering the supporting convenience retail services including restaurants, support services and lodging. The housing market in Northwest Bakersfield, Oildale and Shafter will also benefit.
We are also witnessing the culmination of much needed transportation improvements that will heavily impact the direction of growth within our community. The ongoing enhancements to Highway 99 and the Westside Parkway and start of the Centennial Corridor connection from Highway 58 will make commute times more efficient and allow residents from all Greater Bakersfield neighborhoods to avoid our increasingly gridlock conditions.
Quality of life decisions will also influence where businesses locate. The Live-Work-Play approach to land development, where daily commutes are reduced to walking and biking distances and shopping and entertainment choices are located near the workplace, will have a greater influence on where families want to spend their time. Great examples of the lifestyle planned community include Belcourt at Seven Oaks in conjunction with Seven Oaks Business Park and the proposed Bakersfield Commons, both providing residents with alternative choices to the historic segregated development approach.
For those that remember the E tickets at Disneyland, watch out, for we are in for a wild ride.
Mark Smith is an office specialist and principal with ASU Commercial with more than 30 years of experience in the Greater Bakersfield and Kern County market. The views expressed are his own.