A local developer in escrow to buy the former Sinaloa Mexican Food Restaurant at 20th and P streets plans to replace the 111-year-old structure with a multi-story apartment building.
Bakersfield's Sage Equities, the developer behind two large rental projects nearby, confirmed it planned as recently as August to build 55 units on four stories at the property. Sage owner-broker Austin Smith said that proposal has since been scaled back and there will be fewer than 55 units.
The family that owned the building and the three quarters of an acre it occupies listed it for sale at $1.9 million in spring 2018. It has reportedly agreed to sell for $899,000.
The pending sale has already provoked calls for finding a way to spare the two-story, 6,439-square-foot building that served as an orphanage before becoming a restaurant in 1957.
There may be room for compromise: Smith said Sage is in talks with the Kern County Museum and other stakeholders about their interest in the building.
"This has always been our intent since we first spoke with the current owners," he said by email. He said the rental project remains in the "early due diligence phase."
The museum was closed Monday and no one was there taking calls.
Sage developed the 44-unit 17th Place Townhomes and recently broke ground two blocks away at 53-unit The Cue Eastchester Flats. Both offer market-rate rentals.
Further west, a different developer recently purchased the 60-year-old Greyhound bus station and confirmed it plans to demolish the 20,850-square-foot building and develop a four-story, market-rate apartment building in its place at 18th and F streets. That project is expected to begin construction early next year.
Christopher Boyle, the city of Bakersfield's development services director, said Monday no building permit has been issued recently on the Sinaloa property.
Zoned as part of a commercial center, the property is deemed suitable for multi-family residential, Boyle said, and any owner wishing to develop it as such can do so without having to get a discretionary permit first.
Smith said Sage is excited to be involved with the building.
"This is a site with a rich history located in downtown’s most promising pocket — Eastchester," he wrote in an email. "It offers a great opportunity to shape the future of our city."
"As Sage Equities has done through Cafe Smitten, 17th Place Townhomes and The Cue," he continued, "we are committed to pioneering projects that help downtown live up to its potential. We have a heart for inspiring others to reimagine and reinvest in our city’s central core."
(Editor's note: This story has been revised to reflect uncertainty as to whether the former restaurant building will be demolished.)