Tuesday, July 6, 2010

More dark clouds for our commercial real estate market and wedding bells for local weather anchor

* ... OFFICE SPACE: Economists have been warning for months that the commercial real estate market is flirting with a meltdown, and now comes word that the national office vacancy rate is showing new signs of stress. According to the Wall Street Journal, office buildings across the country lost 1.8 billion square feet of occupied space in the second quarter, "pushing the national office vacancy rate to 17.4 percent, the highest level since 1993." Locally the commercial market is under great stress, and you don't have to do much more than drive around town to spot the alarming number of  vacant buildings. This seems particularly acute in the Northwest where brand new strip centers sit empty. One local businessman who owns part of a Northwest shopping center told me this weekend he was current on his payments but out of compliance with his loan covenants, and now his banker is demanding a higher monthly payment. "I told them I'd be better off declaring bankruptcy and then renting my space back at a lower cost, or looking for a smaller space. Is that what they want? Another empty building?"

* ... WEIGHT LOSS: You may have seen the new NBC series "Losing It with Jillian" featuring celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels living with folks who need to lose weight. She made her mark on "The Biggest Loser" and is now has her own series, playing off our national guilt about obesity. It turns out a local woman, Ruth May, was featured a few episodes back. Ruth works at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital and reportedly lost 75 pounds in just two months. Memorial marketing manager Michelle Willow said Terrio Therapy and Fitness is now assisting Ruth and her family as part of the Five Ton Challenge, which is Terrio's citywide weight loss program sponsored by Memorial Hospital.

 * ... ENGAGED: Nice to hear that Melissa Vreeman, the morning weather anchor over at KERO 23, is engaged to be married to Brian Dignan, assistant men's basketball coach at Cal State Bakersfield. Melissa told me they have been dating for almost a year and a half and hope to wed sometime in April 2011. Brian served both as a player and a coach at Cuesta College and Brigham Young University and has been with the Runners since for nine seasons. Melissa was born in Washington State but grew up in Southern California. She joined KERO TV in January 2008.

 * ... SPOTTED: Long holiday weekends in Bakersfield never fail to result in trashed parks, and this year  was no different. Fourth of July revelers left our parks full of trash, bottles, cans, wrappers and remnants of fireworks littering the sidewalks and the bike trail. Doesn't anyone pick up after themselves anymore?

 * ... BAKO OLD TIMER: Self described old timer Don Kurtz sent me his own list of Bakersfieldisms: "How about Tiny's Diner downtown, or Clarks Broiler at Union and Monterey? Or the hamburger grill across from Jefferson Park at Beale Avenue? Or the Foster's Freeze at Niles and Union or Blue Jays Ice Cream Parlor on Bernard Street across from Longfellow School. This is just a start of really bringing back good memories of East Bakersfield and a little bit of downtown."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM:  You know you're a Bakersfield old timer if you "remember what used to be where Sinaloa is now. (Flor d' Italia)


Mike Bell said...

As to your question "Doesn't anybody pick up after themselves?"


Anonymous said...

My family used to picnic in Hart Park when I was a child but over the years it has been overtaken by slobs who just leave their old plates and food on the picnic tables. I stopped going there years ago and would never take my own children there.

Debbie M.

Anonymous said...

Re-read one of your old posts shilling for the Commons, that gigantic traffic-breeding mess to be built along Coffee at Brimhall. It'll bring construction jobs, you wrote, as if that would be the only impact. Here the project's been approved with the promise of "upscale" shopping (Where have we heard that before? Fifteen years ago at the Marketplace? Five years ago at Riverwalk? And did the "upscale" shopping arrive? No. We got Target. Will upscale shopping happen at the Commons? Unlikely.) Now you quote a business owner who is suffering, for whom I feel deeply, and you make note of the many vacancies around town. Is there no connection between excessive shopping/offices being approved and the vacancies and businesses that are already suffering? Or the increase in traffic on an already insanely business street with the addition of any kind of giant retail center? Can't anyone connect the dots here?