Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bakersfield Commons retail project looks for traction and Newsweek throws Rep. McCarthy some love

 * ... BAKERSFIELD COMMONS: Had a chance this week to catch up with Daniel Niemann, project manager for the huge Bakersfield Commons mixed retail, commercial and residential development at the corner of Brimhall and Coffee roads. The project will go before the Planning Commission this Thursday (5:30 p.m. in the City Council chamber) and Niemann hopes it will finally gain some traction. The first phase is 600,000 square feet of retail plus another 200,000 square feet of commercial, and he believes our market is ready for some upscale retail. Niemann told me that Dillard's department store has already signed a "letter of interest" (nonbinding of course) and that JCPenny would be the other anchor. With a jobless rate of 17.1 percent, Kern County should be receptive to a project that promises to bring 4,600 construction jobs and 11,000 permanent jobs once fully built out, but there have been issues over the impact on local traffic flow. That said, there's no doubt that parcel will eventually be developed and we could use the jobs. With a little luck, the project could go before the City Council in June. We'll see. (to read a previous post on the project, click here)

 * ... THE NEW NEWT: Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) received some valuable recognition this week when Newsweek magazine ran a two-page spread calling him the "new" Newt Gingrich of the Republican party. (click here to read the entire piece) The story referred to McCarthy as an optimist and one of the GOP's "young guns" who was trying to repeat the 1994 Republican  "Contract with America" engineered by then House Speaker Gingrich. Late last year, the story added that House Minority Leader John Boehner assigned McCarthy the task of helping the GOP overcome the rap of being the "party of no." Though times have changed McCarthy is clearly one of the GOP's rising stars and someone to be watched.

* ... LORI'S KIDS: Reader Lori Drury sent me an email to update me on her children and their accomplishments. Her oldest daughter is Lindsay Rath, a 2002 graduate of UC San Diego who later went into the Navy and medical school. Her travels took her to Philippines, Japan and Thailand. She will move back to San Diego in August to begin a residency in anesthesiology. Her brother, Jason Meeks, went to UC Davis and later UC San Francisco Medical School, also studying anesthesiology. He is awaiting word on where he will do his internship. Another daughter is Christa Kenney, a nurse who graduated from Cal State Bakersfield who is  now working in the neonatal intensive care unit at Memorial Hospital. Finally, there is a younger daughter who is attending high school and wants to be a registered dietitian. As Lori said: "I guess we could start my own hospital if I had any more kids!"

 * ... LOU ELLA'S: Got a nice note from Bitsy Ming sharing her recollections of the old Lou Ella's children's store on Baker Street. Bitsy (her husband is Garrett Ming of Jim Burke Lincoln Mercury) spent countless hours at Lou Ella's as a child, playing with owner Brenda and Armanda's dogs. "My best friend Sara Mettler (Nilson) and I often went with our mothers and purchased identical outfits so we looked like Cindy Brady or my preference, Buffy of Family Affair. Our Cotillion clothes were purchased at Lou Ella's complete with gloves and stockings. Much later, after we had the misfortune of outgrowing Lou Ella's, we were back purchasing baby shower gifts and then even better our own children's clothing and blankets. It was hard believing it was our children's turn to lay with Armanda and Brenda's dogs as well as their toys while we completed our purchases."

 * ... TONY SPOTTED: NASCAR driver Tony Stewart was spotted last Thursday night dining at the Petroleum Club and apparently had great things to say about the food and service. No word on what brought him to town.

 * ... COLLEGE BOUND: Anna Keathley, a Bakersfield High senior and chair of the Assisteens, will be attending Loyola Marymount University in the Fall. Thanks to her mother, Marianne Keathley, for sharing the good news.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISMS: You know you're from Bakersfield when "you remember the two times in the last 25 years that it snowed and you remember everything you did that day."

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