The new owners of the East Hills Mall announced Wednesday plans to renovate the property into a 350,000-square-foot "destination open-air lifestyle center" with restaurants, shopping and a brand new movie theater.
Local developers Chris Hayden and Mark Shuman of MarkChris Investments and Craig and Grant Carver of C & C Properties Inc. purchased the northeast Bakersfield mall in December.
On Wednesday they described their plans for turning the faltering mall into a destination shopping center.
Their plans call for a dramatic change to the complex. The center of the mall would be demolished and converted to an open-air courtyard with a fountain anchored by the new movie theater and flanked by shops and restaurants. The theater appears from plans to sit on the same footprint as the current Regency Theaters.
“We are looking forward to providing Bakersfield and especially northeast Bakersfield an exciting, first-class shopping and entertainment experience,” Craig Carver said in a statement. “Our design inspiration is a blend of mid-century modern and contemporary-style architecture so it will uniquely stand out in the market.”
The plans show room for 10 major retail shops fronting on pedestrian walkways, not the interior space of the mall, as well as plenty of other smaller retail and restaurant space.
They show the addition of five new, smaller buildings along the Mall View Road frontage like those that typically contain stand-alone restaurants and banks in other Bakersfield shopping centers.
Carver said the owners are in lease negotiations with several national and regional retailers and restaurants as well as a national theater chain. He did not name names, which is typical before final deals are struck.
Reconstruction is scheduled to start in the "second quarter or early third quarter" of 2017 and be finished roughly a year later. Current tenants will move out by March 3, a press release said.
It said those tenants will have an opportunity to relocate to the new shopping center at current market lease rates.
The project will need city approvals before it can move forward.
Paul Johnson, a principal planner with the City of Bakersfield, said the property is currently zoned for a planned commercial development.
If the developers choose to proceed under that zoning, they would need to submit plans to the city for review and get approval by both the Bakersfield Planning Commission and the Bakersfield City Council.
If the developers choose to rezone the property, they would have to undergo a more extensive zone change process, which could include environmental review up to and including an environmental impact report, Johnson said.
He said formal plans have not been submitted to the city for review.
East Hills Mall, built in 1988, sits between Mount Vernon Avenue and Oswell Street. There are 250,000 people in the project’s primary trade area and about 500,000 people in a 10-mile radius, said Duane Keathley, senior director/principal at Cushman & Wakefield/Pacific Commercial Realty Advisors.
“This redevelopment has been a long time coming,” he said in a statement. “It’s great news for the people of east Bakersfield and for the city of Bakersfield in general. It will be an impressive retail and entertainment center.”