Category: Quality of Life

New entertainment venue could come to downtown Bakersfield

  • BY JOSEPH LUIZ jluiz@bakersfield.com

Bakersfield could soon have more entertainment options in the downtown area.

The City of Bakersfield has a 223,000-square-foot piece of land at California Avenue and P Street that it intends to sell to Discovery Management Group LLC, partly for the construction of a venue called Discovery Bakersfield that would include a bowling center, restaurants, a music venue and more.

The city said Discovery Bakersfield would be a 38,000-square-foot, three-story building that would include 20 bowling lanes and a 950-seat music hall.

“This is a great opportunity,” said Community Services Director Jacqui Kitchen. “The City Council has had a vision of an entertainment area here for more than 10 years. I think the residents of Bakersfield deserve this.”

Kitchen said the goal is for the Discovery Management Group to eventually develop the rest of the property with restaurants and other entertainment uses, as well as a possible high-end hotel. Kitchen said she would also like to see some kind of microbrewery locate there.

Kitchen said the creek that runs along the eastern edge of the property would also serve as a great amenity. She said she would like to see a restaurant take advantage of the views.

“Mill Creek is the only opportunity in Bakersfield where you can have a restaurant looking out over the water,” she said. “You can almost imagine you’re sitting somewhere in Germany or Italy enjoying a meal.”

The company has already begun discussions with restaurants and other companies about developing on the property, Kitchen said.

During its April 11 meeting, the City Council authorized Mayor Karen Goh to sign a draft letter of intent from the city detailing terms for purchase of the property, the price of which has been set at $2.2 million. The city will now move forward with the purchasing process.

If the purchase goes through, the venue would be Discovery Management Group’s third location. The company already has a Discovery Ventura and is opening a Discovery San Luis Obispo this summer. Discovery Bakersfield would be its largest venue yet in terms of square footage.

Jeremy Pemberton, founder of Discovery Management Group, said at the council meeting that he believes the music hall in particular will draw a lot of people to the venue. Pemberton said he believes another music veue is greatly needed in Bakersfield.

“Currently, the City of Bakersfield and the county is void of a national touring spot for a music club that can host between 400 and 800 folks,” he said. “With the facility design that we have and the experience that we have, we know that we can create a facility that would eventually become a commodity for the touring industry.”

Pemberton and his brother Joshua initially approached the city in fall 2015 to discuss their desire to open a location in Bakersfield. However, Kitchen said plans were put on hold after the company suffered some setbacks in the process of developing its San Luis Obispo location.

Once the issues were settled and the project was moving ahead, the brothers returned to the city late last year to renew discussions.

“They believe Bakersfield has a young, growing population and a real desire for more entertainment choices here,” Kitchen said. “They think a location in Bakersfield would be a great addition. It’s not meant to replace any of our businesses, but enhance those and give the community more choices.”

If approved, construction of Discovery Bakersfield would start by the end of year and wrap up by June 2019, according to the Discovery Bakersfield Development Project Plan. A soft opening has been tentatively scheduled for June 5, 2019.

Discovery Bakersfield would be part of the city’s South Mill Creek Entertainment District, which already includes Maya Cinemas, the McMurtrey Aquatic Center and the Bakersfield Ice Center.

If approved, Discovery Bakersfield would be the second entertainment venue to open in the downtown area within just a few years. The BLVD, located on Buck Owens Boulevard, opens on April 19.

The 45,000-square-foot business will have a restaurant, three full-service bars, bowling lanes, laser tag, a ropes course, an arcade and more. It is owned by The BLVD LLC and Trifecta Management Group.

The two venues will share some services and features but Discovery Bakersfield would be more focused on music, Kitchen said.

Pemberton said he’s excited about the prospect of developing a project in downtown Bakersfield and working with the city.

“We’re excited about the opportunity here in Bakersfield and we look forward to providing a much-needed first-class concert venue and entertainment facility for the entire community,” he said.

Clovis’ craft beer scene is heating up: ‘We see a lot of potential out here’

Updated April 04, 2018 03:36 PM

Two more housing developments set for Visalia

 

  • San Joaquin Valley Homes and Presidio Residential Capital to build
  • “Greystone” and “Ashton Park” to be designed for entry-level buyers and young families

Two new residential communities, called Greystone and Ashton Park and totaling 218 detached single-family homes priced from the mid-$200,000s, are planned for Visalia by San Joaquin Valley Homes and Presidio Residential Capital. The developers say they have closed on 29 acres (151 lots) and plan to close an additional 19 acres (67 lots) next year for the projects.

Groundbreaking is expected in April and the neighborhoods are expected to be open for sale by early 2019. Their retail value is estimated to exceed $52 million.

“Ideally located on prime Visalia land in the Northwest with easy access to excellent schools, these communities will be extremely appealing to first-time and move-up buyers and young families,” says Danny Garcia, vice president of sales at SJV Homes, which is based in Visalia.

Greystone will offer 127 traditional homes with six floor plans ranging from 1,658 to 3,205 square feet on lots ranging in size from 6,800 to 8,200 square feet with some premium lots over

10,000 square feet. Ashton Park will offer 91 garden homes with three floor plans ranging from 1,297 to 1,597 square feet on lots ranging in size from 4,700 to 6,000 square feet. These homes will feature nine-foot ceilings, pitched tile roofs, tile flooring, granite countertops, stainless appliances and two-car garages.

The new communities are located on the northeast corner of West Riggin Avenue and North Akers Street across the street  from the new Ridgeview Middle School. The new residential neighborhoods are located less than four miles from downtown and about four miles east of Highway 99.

Founded in 2013 by Joe Leal, Jim Robinson and Randy Merrill, SJV Homes closed on its 1,000th home in late December 2017.

The Visalia communities are SJV Homes’ 17th and 18th joint venture projects with Presidio Residential Capital, a San Diego based real estate investment company that funds 100 percent of the projects and operations of SJV Homes.

According to the National Association of Home Builders’ formula to determine the local impact of single-family housing in typical metro areas, adding 218 single-family homes will generate $63.7 million in local income, $7.9 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments and 875 local jobs.

http://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/1b2a39c3-547d-46c7-98a9-b72e265c8d72.pdf

Coding firm offering free programs to Stockton high schools

By BusinessJournal

March 27, 2018

CodeHS, a company that provides web-based computer science curriculum, has partnered with Reinvent Stockton Foundation to bring coding classes to Stockton high schools.

The Code Stockton initiative formed by the two entities is geared toward expanding computer science programs in Stockton high school classrooms.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with the Reinvent Stockton Foundation to empower Stockton students to meaningfully impact the future,” said CodeHS CEO Jeremy Keeshin in a statement. “With extensive online resources and passionate teachers, our goal is to bring high-quality computer science courses to high schools in the city of Stockton.”

Organizers of the initiative pointed to a U.S. Department of Labor study that showed there will be 500,000 new computing jobs created in the next eight years nationwide, but only 40 percent of high schools have computer science classes.

Participating schools will receive “free introductory computer science courses, online and in-person professional development training for teachers, CodeHS Pro accounts and ongoing implementation support for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years.”

Interested schools can sign up at CodeStockton.com before Apr. 10, 2018.

Coding firm offering free programs to Stockton high schools

 

Professional soccer comes to Fresno — finally this city will be on the map!

By ROBIN ABCARIAN

Professional soccer comes to Fresno — finally this city will be on the map!
Fresno’s only professional soccer team, the Foxes, play their first game of the season at Chukchansi Park, which is also home to the AAA baseball team, the Grizzlies. Fresno, despite its size, has a dearth of professional sports teams. Nearly 8,000 soccer fans turned out. (Robin Abcarian / Los Angeles Times)

Like any debut, the Fresno Football Club’s first game was not without a few glitches.

The scoreboard wasn’t working. A fire alarm went off for no reason. Merchandise sales were stalled by sluggish iPads.

But none of the nearly 8,000 soccer fans who turned out Saturday evening at Chukchansi Park seemed to mind. This was, after all, the first game of the first professional soccer team in an absolutely soccer-mad part of the state.

“We’re making history with a new team in Fresno,” said Alex Llamas, 26, a fourth-grade teacher and soccer coach who lives in Clovis. “To bring a soccer club here is amazing.”

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George Aguirre, a Reedley High School senior, was blunt. “Soccer is our life,” he told me before the game started. “We never actually thought this would happen.”

You can forgive Fresnans for feeling ignored by professional sports. Fresno State’s teams are beloved, of course. But when it comes to pro sports, Fresno has only the Grizzlies, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Houston Astros.

Despite being home to more than 500,000 people — making it the most populous city in the San Joaquin Valley – Fresno often has the feel of a sleepy little town. On a weekend, downtown streets are mostly empty.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, who has been working with city officials for years to revitalize the sclerotic downtown, told me that he hopes the soccer team — known as both the Foxes and the Zorros (Spanish for foxes) — will help get the city’s blood pumping again.

“It’s a big plus for the city of Fresno,” he said. “We have a large Hispanic population of very rabid soccer fans. It will be great for downtown.”

You always get the sense that Fresno thinks it’s on the verge of something big, that every advance is going to, finally, bring the world here.

The problem is, Fresno is geographically isolated. It’s smack in the middle of the state, surrounded by farmland. It’s about a four-hour drive from Los Angeles, and a four-hour drive from San Francisco.

Like many smallish big cities, Fresno struggles with its identity.

Years ago, it called itself the “All-American city.” Some boosters have called it “America’s best little city.” At some point, the Fresno/Clovis Convention and Visitors Bureau dubbed it “California’s year-round playground.”

And then, at least briefly, the city slogan was “Be world class. Be Fresno.” (Some have joked that Fresno should change its name to Fres-yes, but that’s a nonstarter.)

Three years ago, state and federal officials descended on a dirt lot next to a late 19th century Southern Pacific train depot for the groundbreaking of Gov. Jerry Brown’s legacy project, the nation’s first high-speed rail.

There was much talk about Fresno finally coming into its own as a major California city, connected by high-speed rail to Silicon Valley and San Francisco to the north, and Los Angeles and San Diego to the south. At the time, I wrote that the celebration was so premature it was like “having a christening for a baby that’s still an embryo in a petri dish.”

The hurdles for this project continue to be immense, as my colleague Ralph Vartabedian has relentlessly chronicled. But the payoff for Fresno, if it comes, could be incalculable.

At least while Fresno waits for its moment in the sun, the town has a new professional sports team to root for.

Fresno Football Club forward Pedro Ribeiro goes for the ball against Miguel Angel Garundo Las Vegas Lights FC during the team's the first game at Chukchansi Park.
Fresno Football Club forward Pedro Ribeiro goes for the ball against Miguel Angel Garundo Las Vegas Lights FC during the team’s the first game at Chukchansi Park. (Kiel Maddox)

 

The team’s owner, Ray Beshoff, is a charismatic Englishman who got to know Fresno after he bought a Mercedes-Benz dealership in town a few years back.

I’ve known Ray for many years, ever since he fell in love with my friend Liza in Greece the summer after our junior year in France. A few months later, he left Liverpool with a few hundred dollars in his pocket and showed up on Liza’s doorstep on Balboa Island. After coming home from class at UC Irvine and finding him on the couch one too many times, she suggested he get a job. He ended up selling cars. Lots and lots of cars. They’ve been married for decades.

“Fresno is really underrepresented in the sporting world,” said Beshoff, who had been toying with buying a pro sports team for a while. “This is a community starving for soccer.”

He put together a group of investors and created the new Fresno Football Club, which is part of the United Soccer League, a step below Major League Soccer.

Beshoff, who owned a Mercedes dealership in San Jose from 2002 to 2015, got to know soccer legend Frank Yallop, who was then head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes, and is now the general manager of the Fresno Football Club. Fans may remember Yallop as the head coach of the Earthquakes when they won the MLS cup in 2001 and 2003. Or as the L.A. Galaxy coach who in 2007 brought David Beckham to town.)

Yallop and coach Adam Smith have assembled an international roster — players are from Brazil, Argentina, Sierra Leone, England, Scotland and the U.S.

“The big plan,” Yallop said, “is to have our own stadium. We’re hoping to stay downtown.”

The United Soccer League, he said, expects the team to build its own stadium in two to five years.

Fresno Foxes owner Ray Beshoff walks around Chukchansi Park, where the soccer team played its first season game. Beshoff, who owns car dealerships in Fresno and San Jose, enlisted soccer legend Frank Yallop to be team’s general manager.
Fresno Foxes owner Ray Beshoff walks around Chukchansi Park, where the soccer team played its first season game. Beshoff, who owns car dealerships in Fresno and San Jose, enlisted soccer legend Frank Yallop to be team’s general manager. (Robin Abcarian / Los Angeles Times)


On Saturday, the Foxes played another new expansion team, the Las Vegas Light. The Light scored their first goal in the first two minutes of play, and soon the score was 3-0.

It would not be until minute 72 of the 90-minute game that Fresno scored their first goal. In the closing minutes, the Foxes scored a second goal, leaving the final score at 3-2.

“Overall, it was an amazing game,” said Llamas, the fourth-grade teacher, when I reached him by phone after the match. He had the good fortune of sitting next to the Fire Squad, the football club’s independent pep squad, dozens strong, who played drums and chanted during the game. “They bring such a great environment to the field. It makes everyone feel welcome.”

Llamas said he wasn’t disappointed by the Foxes’ loss.

“Right now is a big moment for Fresno,” Llamas said. “Professional teams, the high-speed rail. It’ll bring a lot more people and put us on the map.”

My fingers are crossed.

http://www.latimes.com/local/abcarian/la-me-abcarian-fresno-soccer-201803120-story.html

The Clovis restaurant scene is hopping: Openings, closings and other shake-ups

BY BETHANY CLOUGH

March 01, 2018 12:15 PM

Top surfers to compete in May just south of … Fresno?

Top surfers to compete in May just south of ... Fresno?
The World Surf League announced this week it plans to hold one of its contests at Kelly Slater’s artificial wave pool in Lemoore. In this video frame grab, Slater is the first to ride his perfect wave created by a machine. (Kelly Slater Wave Company)

 

In May, the greatest professional surfers from Australia to Brazil will come to battle it out in some of the most pristine waves in California — in the dusty croplands of Kings County.

The World Surf League announced this week it plans to hold one of its contests at Kelly Slater’s artificial wave pool in Lemoore.

Slater, the 11-time world champion considered the best of all time, spent 10 years working with a USC aerospace engineer to design a perfect wave, peeling 700 yards along a recontoured water ski lake. Videos of the wave, with hollow barrel sections and open faces to do aerials and cutbacks, have captivated the surfing world since the first one appeared in December 2015. But only a select few have been invited to see it, much less ride it.

“A wave of that shape sits in the subconsciousness of every surfer in the world,” longtime Surfer magazine editor Steve Hawk told The Times in 2016. “That wave is exactly the fantasy wave I drew on the margins of my notebooks when I was in high school.”

 For the first time, the facility, the Surf Ranch, will be open to the public during the contest, according to a World Surf League news release. The two-day competition on May 5-6, the Founders’ Cup of Surfing, will have “a festival backdrop honoring the culture of surfing — food, music, beverage, art and special guests will all be on site for enjoyment.”

In an unusual format, the wave-riders will not compete individually but in five-person teams (three men, two women) representing different parts of the world: Australia, the U.S., Europe and Brazil, and one team representing the best athletes from other surfing parts of the world, such as South Africa and Japan.

Global teams of engineers and surfers are vying to build artificial wave pools that can produce high-quality waves that come in rapid enough succession to create an economically viable surf amusement park. An obstacle has been energy use and the length of time the water needs to settle after a wave rolls through before the next one can come.

At a contest, this is less of an issue because of the small number of surfers in the water. And the bonus for contest organizers: the mood swings of nature are mostly out of the equation; no need to wait for distant storms to produce ocean swells. Barring mechanical failure, perfect waves will be coming on May 5.

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-ln-slater-inland-surf-contest-20180228-story.html#nws=mcnewsletter

CSU Bakersfield students OK expanding Student Union and new aquatics center

Feb., 27, 2018

  • Will triple the size of the student union building
  • Student fees to increase

Students at California State University, Bakersfield have approved a referendum to more than triple the size of the Student Union and build an aquatics facility, according to Associated Students Inc. A total of 1,768 students voted on the referendum, with 1,086 (61.4 percent) voting “yes” and 682 students (38.6) voting “no.”

“The fruition of the project will encourage student development, improve student life, provide exceptional services and advance the CSUB community,” says ASI President Mariela Gomez.

The total expansion will be approximately 80,000 square feet – about 40,000 for the two-story Student Union expansion and 40,000 for the new Student Recreation Center Aquatics Facility. The current 17,000-square-foot student union was originally built in 1987 when the campus population was about 5,100. Since then, CSUB has grown to more 10,000 students.

The $37 million project — $27 million for the Student Union and $10 million for the aquatics center – will be funded through a combination of sources, including student fees. Student fees for the Student Union expansion will increase by roughly $40 per semester in the first year and tier up to $160 per semester over a four-year period for the Student Union expansion.

Fees for the SRC Aquatic Facility are roughly $20 per semester and will not tier. ASI leaders will meet soon with campus administrators to determine when the fee collection will begin. Students who currently receive financial aid will have all fees covered without any out-of-pocket expenses. CSUB anticipates that the Student Union expansion will need three years of fee collection before the construction process can begin.

Planning for the construction of the SRC Aquatic Facility, which will be located in the current dirt lot on Kroll Way across the street from parking lot K2 and next to the SRC soccer field, will begin immediately, and the timeline for completion will be determined after construction begins. Approximately 80-100 jobs will be created by the projects.

http://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/a131c938-5dbc-42b0-bce0-d7ea9b52228c.pdf

California approves PG&E proposal for EV access in low-income areas

 

More electric vehicle charging stations are coming to California after the state approved an initiative to expand charging projects into low-income cities.

The Central Valley has opportunity to secure some of that infrastructure.

The California Public Utilities Commission approved the new projects, which totaled 15 proposals, on Jan. 11.

Approved projects include four PG&E pilots totaling $8 million to be added in PG&E coverage areas.

It’s part of a larger $1 billion investment that will add 5,300 new charging points to the state, representing a commitment to new EV infrastructure and related transportation electrification projects.

Sites for the new builds have yet to be determined.

PG&E will partner with businesses and individuals to advance its initiatives, which include bringing EV access and technology to medium/heavy-duty fleet vehicles, school buses, refrigeration trucks and parking spaces. PG&E will also provide better EV education for homeowners looking to install charging stations in their residence.

The San Joaquin Valley can look forward to one project that targets the region specifically: electrifying refrigeration units and other auxiliary power units of agricultural and long-haul trucks in the San Joaquin Valley by providing a minimum of 15 electrified parking spaces at one parking site.

The proposals were submitted last year by Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric under Senate Bill 350 and received expedited review.

California approves PG&E proposal for EV access in low-income areas

Sunset Magazine put out a list of 20 game-changing places to live and Fresno’s on it

January 08, 2018 11:48 AM

Updated January 08, 2018 04:24 PM