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!"

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf. Sign up at Bakersfield.com for free newsletters about local business.

(5) comments

Yellowhammer

It should have been razed years ago. It would be a perfect site for a regional park.

Nevermind

I hope the people that buy it understand it's most prolific asset......the view. It should be a combination of inside and outside venues. A two story restaurant or bar on the Southwest corner is a no brainer. Outside, nicely landscaped areas, misters and fireplaces, music on speakers, a live band venue, and none of the usual Mall outlets that last 6 months. Do it right, or give the land back to lizards and jackrabbits

bobspapa

What Bakersfield really needs is, more people making stuff, and less people selling stuff. Malls are the slow economic death of a community.

Jim

The Northeast is indire need of more goods and services. Exit 178 on to Mt Vernon sometime, most of the reatlors are jammed with customers. Starting with a blank slate at Oswell makes so much sense. The guys with City Lights will walk away because they dont have enough skin in the game. This deal is going to get low balled on the city hall steps. $1,500,000.

JR

I strongly hope that whoever buys this property does not create an eyesore like the one on Coffee at Stockdale, with its massive Chevron station and ugly franchise restaurants. What Bakersfield needs instead, is more malls like The Market Place and Town and Country Village, or even the one on MIng with Macy's. Or if not a mall then a well designed and landscaped industrial or office complex. Or aesthetically pleasing and landscaped housing, including a portion for affordable housing. But if this city is continued to be sold to the highest bidder or any old bidder, regardless of the way it looks, then Bakersfield will continue to go downhill and become just a crappy town out in the middle of nowhere.

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