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Greyhound prepares to leave 18th Street but its replacement remains unclear

Greyhound is gearing up to pull out of its downtown station and move a mile away to Bakersfield's Amtrak terminal, even if new owners of the 60-year-old bus depot on 18th Street aren't quite sure what they'll put in its place.

Construction is coming along at two new bus bays Greyhound intends to take over at the west end of the existing Amtrak station just south of Truxtun Avenue. There will also be a storage area near the two parking spaces, as well as a kiosk inside the city-owned Amtrak terminal near S Street.

Plans originally called for the bus operator to relocate by the end of this year, though lease extensions have been offered allowing Greyhound to remain on 18th Street through March if supply-chain and other delays make more time necessary.

The situation has raised questions about what will eventually take Greyhound's place on a section of 18th Street that has attracted growing interest in recent years.

Locally owned development company Church Plaza LLC, which paid $1.27 million for the property in mid-July of last year, disclosed its intention a year ago to demolish the 20,850-square-foot bus station and redevelop the site into a four-story, market-rate apartment building with or without a ground-floor storefront and eatery.

Those plans are in flux, said Ward 2 City Councilman Andrae Gonzales, who recently met with representatives of Church Plaza for what he termed a productive meeting about the property's future.

He declined to say what the company has in mind now as it draws up a new plan for the project, and the company did not return calls requesting comment. But Gonzales said something big may be in store.

"They have some really good ideas in terms of what to do with that property," Gonzales said. "They have a big heart for Bakersfield and for downtown Bakersfield and they want to do something really meaningful and significant."

"There's a lot of variables," was all he would say about the company's plans. He added that excitement surrounds that area along 18th Street and that, "the future is really bright for that part of downtown Bakersfield."

A spokesman for City Hall, noting Bakersfield approved Greyhound's new lease agreement in March, said by email that relocating the bus station to Truxtun accomplishes two things. It further consolidates transportation services at an existing mobility hub, and it makes way for private redevelopment supportive of the City Council's stated goal of attracting investment in development that renews downtown's urban core.

"The city is looking forward to welcoming Greyhound to the property, which will provide users with additional travel options from one central location," spokesman Eric Galvan wrote.