A Los Angeles company is moving forward with preparations for 83 new homes on 20 acres of semi-developed land just south of Highway 178 and west of Comanche Drive in northeast Bakersfield.
The city's Planning Commission voted unanimously Thursday to allow the property to be subdivided by an engineering company hired by Global Investment & Development LLC. The item was approved on the agency's consent agenda after no commissioners or members of the public asked to speak about it.
While it's unclear when the project might ultimately begin construction, Global Investment's progress highlights momentum in a part of town that is nevertheless being built out more slowly than southwest Bakersfield.
CEO Aaron Rivani said Friday the company is not yet marketing the land for sale to homebuilders, adding he thinks the market for single-family homes will remain strong for as much as five more years, assuming no drastic political or other changes.
Global Investment has developed residential property across the state, including more than 4,500 lots in the Bakersfield area, Rivani said. He noted the company has owned this particular property for years, having bought it from a company that put in $7-8 million in grading, sewers and other work.
In his view, a big reason more homes haven't been built in the area is that the area lacks amenities such as supermarkets and drug stores.
"Basically, whoever wants to buy something, they have to (drive) away from there," Rivani said.
Bakersfield appraiser Gary Crabtree agreed a lack of retail and other urban infrastructure has limited residential development in that part of northeast Bakersfield. But he asserted other factors have also played a role.
The area's alluvial soil has made developing the area more expensive than in other parts of the city, Crabtree said. He recalled other projects nearby landing in legal trouble after tracts that were improperly compacted and built suffered damage from subsidence.
Also, the area competes with southwest Bakersfield as a location for low-density housing. Both areas are attracting investment — a Canadian-based investment company recently picked up 199 acres for future residential development in the city's northeast — but developers in the southwest are moving more quickly after ambitious plans to build homes in the city's northeast fizzled during the housing bust.
Crabtree pointed to some advantages northeast Bakersfield still offers, such as relative high elevation and refreshing afternoon breezes.
As to how soon Global Investment might eventually step up and market the land for sale, Crabtree said, "It's really depending on (the company's) holding power."
For his part, Rivani said the company is open to purchase offers but that he's in no rush to sell.
Notably, in mid-2020 his company sold two parcels totaling 158 acres in deep southwest Bakersfield to local residential developer The LandStone Cos. The properties were approved for development of more than 560 single-family homes.
The company's 20-acre parcel in the city's northeast is located immediately east of an existing residential neighborhood. Maps presented to the Planning Commission show five proposed streets, all with lunar-themed names, all with cul-de-sacs.