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BAKERSFIELD, CA-Developer Forte Resources has broken ground on a $35-million mixed-use project called Baker Street Village that is designed to restore vitality to a central portion of Old Town Kern, according to NAI Capital, the listing agent for the development.

The project, now under way on a two-block site at the corner ofBaker and Lake streets, is “part of a plan by the Bakersfield Redevelopment Agency to restore vitality to this once-thriving central location,” says Chad Brock, a broker with NAI Capital who is handling the sale and leasing of the retail and office portion of the development.

Forte broke ground this month on phase one of Baker Street, which will consist of five new commercial buildings totaling more than 69,000 sf of retail space, along with 84 residential units. The project is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2010.

Plans for the retail portion of the development include restaurants, shops and in-line space, with more than 30,000 sf earmarked for use as a market or drug store. The site is vacant except for a two-story, 20,000-sf structure called the Coronet Building, which will be marketed for single-tenant or multitenant office use.

Over the past three years, the Bakersfield Redevelopment Agency assembled nearly two blocks of required land for the Baker Street Village project, according to the City of Bakersfield’s website. The agency acquired 15 properties, relocated 10 businesses and two residential occupants and then demolished the buildings in preparation for the project.

The residential component of the project will consist of 84 units, 53 of which will be affordable units at 60% to 120% of median income for the area. The remaining 31 units will be sold at market rate.

The Bakersfield City Council and the redevelopment agency plan to provide down payment assistance to qualified buyers. All homes reserved as affordable will contain various covenants and restrictions to assure continuing affordable opportunities dependent on income levels.

Brock notes that Bakersfield, with a population of more than 500,000 in the city’s greater metropolitan area, was one of the fastest growing cities in the US with populations over 250,000 in 2007. The redevelopment agency and other groups have been encouraging commercial and industrial development in an effort to create new jobs.

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