East Hills Mall is set to be auctioned off within two weeks after its owners failed to make up a payment of more than $7 million they missed last summer.
County records show the previous owner, Modesto-based Retail Equities LLC, filed a notice last month that the boarded-up, 350,500-square-foot property will be sold to the highest bidder at 10 a.m. May 13 on the steps of Bakersfield City Hall, 1501 Truxtun Ave.
The current owners, 50-percent partners City Lights LLC and MarkChris Investments LLC, purchased the former shopping center Dec. 23 for $8.75 million. They were supposed to make a final, $7.5 million payment June 29 of last year but apparently did not.
With interest and penalties, the amount owned now comes to about $7,752,789.55, according to county property records.
The partners had proposed to demolish and redevelop the property, which was to be renamed City Lights and reopen last year. Instead, the former mall has remained blighted, to the concern of city officials.
MarkChris Investments did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
City Development Services Director Jacqui Kitchen said by email Thursday she believes the site has "tremendous potential" that could be tapped to create an amenity for the residents of East Bakersfield and the wider community.
"The site has unique topography, some of the best views in the city and access to several major hospitals and downtown employers — all of which present real opportunities," she wrote.
"It seems that a successful development model will go beyond traditional commercial uses, and will incorporate a truly 'mixed use' type of development, which integrates residential, commercial and entertainments uses all together throughout the site," Kitchen continued. "Cities across the nation are embracing the 'live, work, play' concept with out-of-the-box developments, and this site represents a unique opportunity to bring that concept right here to Bakersfield!"