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Master-planned community with 378 units OK'd for northwest Bakersfield

Northwest Bakersfield will get a whole new community — 378 residential units ranging from apartments to estates — under a master-planned residential proposal approved this month by the Bakersfield Planning Commission.

The proposal by Bakersfield's Froehlich Development would occupy vacant land west of Renfro Road at Brimhall Road, where only four years ago stood almond orchards that were virtually surrounded by residential neighborhoods, making the project infill housing of a sort.

Project manager Bo Froehlich said Bellamente, as the phased development is being called, represents the last of the family's farmland in that area, though he added the company continues to work on other opportunities in the area.

His plan is to begin construction early next year, starting with estate 14 estate-type lots measuring 11,400 square feet each on the north side of Brimhall. Later, he said, the company plans to build 76 single-family homes south of Brimhall on lots measuring at least 4,500 square feet.

After that would be built 56 duplexes totaling 112 units, plus an apartment complex at the southwest corner of Brimhall and Renfro containing 176 dwelling units. Exact timing of the different phases has not been determined.

Froehlich said he was unable to estimate sales prices because of changing market conditions.

The company hosted meetings in 2020 to introduce neighbors to the plan for Bellamente, showing them renderings of the project in hopes of winning their support.

"We had really good feedback," he said, adding the company spent close to two years going over designs in hopes of putting forth the best possible project. He called Bellamente the company's capstone residential project.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously May 5 to approve the project, with Commissioner Candace Neal abstaining and Zach Bashirtash absent.

A homeowners association is proposed to maintain the project's interior, private streets, as well as driveway easements.

Land where the housing will be built was added to the city of Bakersfield with a vote of approval Feb. 15, 2007, by the Kern County Local Area Formation Commission. Then, almost 15 years later, on Jan. 29, the Bakersfield City Council approved a zone change and General Plan amendment allowing Bellamente to move forward.

The council also adopted what's called a mitigated negative declaration in lieu of an extensive environmental impact report on the project.

The project would include a single lot containing neighborhood and general commercial development on a piece of property measure a little more than 3 acres on the northwest corner of Brimhall and Renfro.

No public comments, for or against, were submitted to the Planning Commission ahead of its votes. The Ward 4 city councilman representing the area, Bob Smith, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

The commission approved a plan for Froehlich to pay in-lieu fees to the North of the River Recreation and Parks Department to satisfy the city municipal code's requirement for park land.

The 76 "quad-style" single-family homes south of Brimhall, all of them two-story, would range in size from 1,787 square feet to 2,280 square feet. Each would contain four to five bedrooms.

The duplexes would measure 1,577 square feet to 1,789 square feet. They also would have two stories and range from three to five bedrooms each. Like the quad-style homes, they would have enough back yard space for an optional swimming pool.

The apartment complex, also with two stories, would be spread across four 16-unit buildings and 14 eight-unit structures. They would measure between 1,223 square feet and 1,320 square feet, with three to four bedrooms. The complex would feature a swimming pool, children's play area, fitness facility and community room.