Press Room

Construction to finally begin on Bakersfield Commons in 2018

  • BY JASON KOTOWSKI

World Oil Corp. and Trammell Crow Co. have announced that construction of Bakersfield Commons, a “pedestrian-oriented, master-planned mixed-use community” located in northwest Bakersfield, will actually, finally begin next year.

The 260-acre project, the revised plans for which were announced last summer, will include office, retail, residential, recreational and industrial space, as well as a wellness campus.

“It’s unfolding as we envisioned,” Abby Ehman, a senior associate at Trammell Crow, said Monday.

None of the single elements planned for the Commons are in themselves complicated, Ehman said, but including them all in one plan is a massive undertaking.

The Commons is planned to ultimately include the following: 400,000 square feet of office; 300,000 square feet of retail; 280,000 square feet of light industrial; more than 1,000 residential units; and a 200 bed hospital.

Phase I construction, estimated to begin second quarter 2018, will be completed in 12 to 14 months, Ehman said. Full buildout could take up to a decade, and may be done in two phases instead of three.

She said the Commons will be a gathering space for Bakersfield.

“People will park there and go to three or four places,” she said.

While she could not yet disclose names of retailers who have committed to the project, she said a luxury theater is on board and will provide 12 “new state-of-the-art” movie screens. She said watching a movie there will provide “almost a living room environment” for theatergoers.

She said several eateries, restaurants, beauty concepts and fitness have also committed.

World Oil, which has owned the property at the corner of Coffee and Brimhall roads for nearly 50 years, received Bakersfield City Council approval with a unanimous vote in December 2016. Since then, design and pre-leasing has been underway.

According to a release from Trammell Crow, “The project is embracing a passive retention for storm water management, which utilizes landscape areas to naturally filter rainfall. Each area of the project is connected by walking paths, flanked by drought-tolerant plants, creating a walkable, livable master-planned community.”

Last year, city officials said the plan appeared to be “modern and well-appointed” with amenities appropriate for the area.

Alphabet’s Waymo Is Using A Castle In Its Bid To Become Self-Driving Car King

Less than a year since Google’s Self-Driving Car project became Waymo, the company is close to commercializing its extensive R&D. The Alphabet Inc. unit this week showed off how it’s fine-tuning sensors and software on faux city streets at a secret complex in a sleepy agricultural section of California to achieve that goal.

Known as the Castle, a nod to its former life as Castle Air Force Base, the Atwater, California, facility is where Waymo technicians since 2012 have safely created what they call “spicey” scenarios – complex interactions with other cars, pedestrians and bicyclists to help its robotic vehicles get smarter. CEO John Krafcik said tests there on streets with names like McFly Way and the Shirley Muldowney Expressway are vital complements to the 10,000 miles of public road tests and 10 million virtual miles Waymo now racks up daily.

“Our intention, make no mistake, is to go fully driverless and let the public access this technology on public roads. We’ve been working so hard on that task,” he told a group of journalists touring the Castle this week. And while Krafcik, a long-time Hyundai and Ford executive who’s led the former Google X unit since 2015, won’t say exactly when Waymo goes commercial, he leaves no doubt that that’s coming.

“It’s fair to say we’re really close.”

A decade since a team of Carnegie Mellon University engineers won the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge and eight years since Google began a (once) top-secret program to perfect autonomous car technology, Waymo appears to be at the leading edge of the self-driving revolution. After more than a $1 billion of R&D, it’s weathered the loss of key founding team members, faces numerous competing programs at auto and tech companies and is pursuing a rancorous lawsuit with Uber. Yet Waymo’s approach to testing, deployment and strategic partnerships is unfazed and laser-focused on building a business.

Google began doing vehicle tests at the Castle in 2012 after it outgrow a parking lot near company headquarters in Mountain View. While the old base’s tarmac is a bit past its prime, Waymo created a variety of new streets, a roundabout, cul-de-sacs and a highway-like section, all ringed by solar-powered streetlights. A few of the old Air Force buildings and barracks left when the base was decommissioned in the 1990s have been repurposed for Waymo engineers, while others appear to be slowly deteriorating.

On the Castle’s streets careless workers unloading a moving van might unexpectedly drop boxes in the path of a vehicle; rude drivers veer into a Waymo minivan’s lane abruptly and without signaling; and cars backing out of driveways in a simulated residential neighbor pull out when least expected. None of these scenarios appear to trouble the robots at the wheel.

In April Waymo began an “Early Rider” program in Chandler, Arizona, where residents who applied for the program can hail one its self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to take them anywhere they request in the metro-Phoenix area.

Although technicians are in the front seats of those vehicles for added safety for now, Waymo technical chief Dmitri Dolgov told reporters this week the minivans already have Level 4 autonomous capability, meaning they can drive without a human at the wheel in most circumstances. “We’re testing everywhere, in downtown streets, on freeways, on all kinds of streets,” Dolgov said.

To show just how sophisticated Waymo’s system has become, it put reporters in the back of its vans for brief test rides around the 60-acre Castle complex with no human at the wheel. That’s not standard practice for any company developing autonomous vehicle technology. Notably, Waymo didn’t require any of the few dozen journalists in attendance to sign legal waivers before taking a ride.

During the 1.5-mile loop, technicians acting as pedestrians, riding bicycles or driving other cars crossed paths with autonomous Waymo minivans. In each case, none of these distractions proved to be a problem. It was as if a skilled invisible driver was at the wheel. Which is precisely Waymo’s goal.

Krafcik identified four applications for the technology that are “super obvious and likely first steps for us.”

The first is in a ridesharing service – that may or may not be under the Waymo brand. Second is for commercial delivery applications. “Things like trucking and logistics makes a lot of sense for a company like Waymo,” he said.

Waymo may also work with cities to provide “last-mile” services that help people get from their homes to a transit station, for example. Interestingly, supplying the technology for use in personal vehicles ranks only fourth in Waymo’s priorities.

“For sure we see this technology as having the potential to be transformative, to make a lot of really good change for the world.”

FRESNO STATE RECEIVED A LARGE DONATION TO EXPAND THE ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT

FRESNO, Calif. – Fresno State is getting a huge jolt to its engineering program. Monday the school received a 450-thousand dollar donation to help expand the department.

Thanks to a new partnership with Chevron, Fresno State will continue to grow as a leader in stem education
“We have a very strong engineering ag and science and math program — all three coming together so it will elevate the program…make us stronger for all of our students,” said Fresno State President, Dr. Joseph Castro.

Monday representatives from Chevron presented Dr. Joseph Castro and the university a check for $450-thousand dollars. The donation will allow Fresno State to expand its engineering programs and to develop a process and control automation academy at the university. All students who complete the program will receive a special certificate.

“The funding we receive from Chevron will help us to develop materials and purchase equipment and mount this new certificate program that will enable our students to be more successful in preparing for jobs in the manufacturing industry,” said Dr. Castro.

Students say this donation will enable engineering majors the opportunity to advance their skill set and be better prepared for life after graduation.

Engineering major, Elias Karan said, “You’re not only learning theory in the classroom…you’re actually doing some hands-on practical work and that’s a great resume builder it’s going to make our students and our graduates much more competitive especially in the valley.”

Part of the money will also go to Fresno States College of Science and Mathematics Physics outreach program — where engineering majors visit valley schools and educate potential future students.

“We serve largely the valley students so it’s going to strengthen the valley because these students will get out there and become part of the next generation of leaders,” said Dr. Castro.

Merced County inks deal to (maybe) bring in thousands of jobs.

OCTOBER 24, 2017 6:45 PM

Commodities company expanding at port with new conveyor system

November 1, 2017

 

PORT OF STOCKTON — One company is making moves to speed up production and make operations more efficient.

M&L Commodities, Inc., based at the Port of Stockton, is expanding its service to include direct-vessel loading and unloading with new high-velocity conveyor belts.

The new conveyors feature 48-inch wide belts and can telescopically reach 190 feet. Maximum delivery of commodities to and from portside vessels can reach a rate of 2,000 tons per hour.

The belts will help with import operations to the company’s facilities, truck and rail and with export from the facilities directly to vessels via ship loader. The move is part of M&L’s expansion plan for infrastructure using “up-to-date, high technology equipment for more productive and efficient operations,” according to a statement released by the company.

M&L Commodities is a logistics service provider, assisting customers with transportation of goods. The company has more than 50 years of experience in international trade. They have strategically placed their operations for close proximity to railways, major interstate arteries and the Port of Stockton.

Their storage facilities are prepared for food grade commodities and organic warehousing, and they refrigerated services, container loading and unloading, full transport operations, vessel loading and unloading and more.

Commodities company expanding at port with new conveyor system

 

Three Kings dairies get CDFA methane grants

  • By John Lindt in Hanford Sentinel

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has awarded $35.2 million in grant funding to 18 dairy digester projects across the state. These projects, part of the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from manure on California dairy farms.

Projects approved in Kings County include $3 million to Wreden Ranch near Hanford, $3 million to Hanford-area dairy Cloverdale and Hollandia Farms, also of Hanford, awarded $1.5 million. Each dairy had to put up substantially more for their projects in matching funds.

Dairy manure produces methane when it decomposes. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that traps more than 80 times as much heat in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Dairy digesters help capture methane emissions, which can be used to produce electricity or natural gas.

Each project plans to capture methane emissions from a covered lagoon and transport the gas to a collection point to be converted to biomethane fuel for vehicles. The process turns an airborne pollution problem into a business opportunity.

Central Valley markets stronger than national average

Serious mortgage delinquency rate holds steady

IRVINE
October 10, 2017

•  Nationally, near 10-year low

•  Central Valley markets stronger than national average

Nationally, 4.6 percent of mortgages were in some stage of delinquency (30 days or more past due including those in foreclosure) in July, a 0.9 percentage point year-over-year decline in the overall delinquency rate compared with July 2016 when it was 5.5 percent, according to a new report released Tuesday by real estate financial information company CoreLogic Inc. (NYSE: CLGX) of Irvine.

As of July, the foreclosure inventory rate, which measures the share of mortgages in some stage of the foreclosure process, was 0.7 percent, down from 0.9 percent in July 2016 and the lowest since the rate was also 0.7 percent in July 2007.

Here is how Central Valley markets look, according to CoreLogic:

• In Stockton-Lodi, 3.6 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 4.4 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.8 percentage points. Stockton-Lodi mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 1.2 percent in July compared with 1.5 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.3 percent compared with 0.4 percent a year earlier.

• In Visalia-Porterville, 4.9 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 5.3 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.4 percentage points. Visalia-Porterville mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 1.5 percent in July compared with 1.8 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.3 percent compared with 0.5 percent a year earlier.

• In Bakersfield, 5.1 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 5.6 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.5 percentage points. Bakersfield mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 1.7 percent in July compared with 2.1 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.5 percent compared with 0.6 percent a year earlier.

• In metropolitan Sacramento, 2.6 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 3.1 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.5 percentage points. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 0.9 percent in July compared with 1.2 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.2 percent compared with 0.3 percent a year earlier.

• In Modesto, 3.6 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 4.2 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.6 percentage points. Modesto mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 1.1 percent in July compared with 1.5 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.3 percent compared with 0.4 percent a year earlier.

• In Merced, 3.6 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 4.3 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.7 percentage points. Merced mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 1.0 percent in July compared with 1.5 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.3 percent compared with 0.4 percent a year earlier.

• In Madera, 4.6 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 4.9 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.3 percentage points. Madera mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 1.6 percent in July compared with 1.9 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.5 percent compared with 0.5 percent a year earlier.

• In Fresno, 4.3 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 4.8 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.5 percentage points. Fresno mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 1.3 percent in July compared with 1.7 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.3 percent compared with 0.5 percent a year earlier.

Measuring early-stage delinquency rates is important for analyzing the health of the mortgage market, CoreLogic says. To monitor mortgage performance comprehensively, CoreLogic says it examines all stages of delinquency as well as transition rates, which indicate the percentage of mortgages moving from one stage of delinquency to the next.

The national rate for early-stage delinquencies, defined as 30-59 days past due, was 2 percent in July, down slightly from 2.3 percent in July 2016. The share of mortgages that were 60-89 days past due in July was 0.7 percent, unchanged from July 2016. The serious delinquency rate (90 days or more past due) declined from 2.5 percent in July 2016 to 1.9 percent in July and remains near the 10-year low of 1.7 percent reached in July 2007. Alaska was the only state to experience a year-over-year increase in its serious delinquency rate.

“While the U.S. foreclosure rate remains at a 10-year low as of July, the rate across the 100 largest metro areas varies from 0.1 percent in Denver to 2.2 percent in New York,” says Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Likewise, the national serious delinquency rate remains at 1.9 percent, unchanged from June, and when analyzed across the 100 largest metros, rates vary from 0.6 percent in Denver to 4.1 percent in New York.”

Since early-stage delinquencies can be volatile, CoreLogic also analyzes transition rates. The share of mortgages that transitioned from current to 30-days past due was 0.9 percent in July, down from 1.1 percent in July 2016, it says. By comparison, in January 2007 just before the start of the financial crisis, the current-to-30-day transition rate was 1.2 percent and it peaked in November 2008 at 2 percent.

“Even though delinquency rates are lower in most markets compared with a year ago, there are some worrying trends,” says Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “For example, markets affected by the decline in oil production or anemic job creation have seen an increase in defaults. We see this in markets such as Anchorage, Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana where the serious delinquency rate rose over the last year.”

http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?ID=33430

Wonderful Spec Project Underway in Central Valley

The 1 million-square-foot building, which will sit within the 1,600-acre Wonderful Industrial Park in Shafter, Calif., is one of only a few developments of its kind in the market.
4100 Express Ave., Shafter, Calif.
4100 Express Ave. in Shafter, Calif.

The call for premier industrial space in California’s Central Valley is growing louder, and Wonderful Real Estate, formerly Roll Real Estate, is responding with a new project. The company is in the midst of developing a 1 million-square-foot speculative industrial property in Shafter, Calif., roughly 130 miles north of Los Angeles and 100 miles south of Fresno in the Central Valley.

It’s the right time and the right place. “Strengthening market fundamentals, growth of e-commerce and awareness of the Central Valley industrial market has given us the confidence to go spec,” Joe Vargas, president of Wonderful Real Estate Development, said in a prepared statement. WRE is constructing the new building at 4100 Express Ave., within the company’s 1,600-acre, rail-served Wonderful Industrial Park. The project holds the distinction of being one of just a few million-square-foot-plus spec industrial developments currently underway with 40-foot clear height, oversized large truck courts and access to four major U.S. Ports (Los Angeles, Long Beach, Hueneme and Oakland).

4100 Express’s location will provide users with even more than cutting-edge accommodations and coveted transportation infrastructure; it will also offer access to an ample pool of labor that is both qualified and committed. WRE notes that existing tenants at Wonderful Industrial Park consistently record annual labor turnover rates in the low single-digit range.

Central Valley takes center stage

Solid positive net absorption and strong rental growth have characterized the Central Valley industrial market for the last two years, according to a second quarter report by commercial real estate services firm JLL, which spearheads leasing activity at Wonderful Industrial Park. And even in the face of new development, the vacancy rate remains a respectable 5.3 percent and is expected to head downward. There’s something about the Central Valley.

“Demand is coming from primarily big-box users looking to capitalize on real estate costs and outbound distribution. Between super-regional distribution plays and e-commerce distribution the Central Valley is cementing itself as a Tier 1 distribution market within the Southwest U.S.,” Mac Hewett, vice president with JLL, told Commercial Property Executive.

WRE expects 4100 Express to be ready to welcome its first tenants in March 2018.

Image courtesy of Wonderful Real Estate

https://www.cpexecutive.com/post/wonderful-spec-project-underway-in-central-valley/

 

Kern County leads US in agriculture production for first time

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Kern County tops the U.S. in agriculture according the Kern County Farm Bureau.

In 2016, Kern County produced more than $7.1 billion in agriculture with pistachio production leading the way.

According to the bureau, Kern County had never previously held the top spot in the state, let alone the country.

http://www.kerngoldenempire.com/news/local-news/kern-county-leads-us-in-agriculture-production-for-first-time/814380991

Gallo connecting with Stanislaus, Merced county schools to develop workforce

Central Valley Business Journal
By NORA HESTON TARTE

E&J Gallo works with students to train them in becoming part of its workforce.

MODESTO — E&J Gallo Winery is keeping employment local.

It was 2015 when the Modesto-based business noticed a gap in its workforce. There weren’t enough technical employees in the area to fill its needs. Instead of looking to surrounding communities to hire from, the company created a job-ready program with local schools to train high school graduates in the skills the company needed.

In the two years the program has been up and running, Gallo has hired 17 program participants to work at the winery.

“I learned that if you want a good-paying career you don’t need to leave [the area],” Edwin Valdivia Jacobo, a general winery worker who graduated Ceres High School Manufacturing and Green Technology Academy in 2015, said. “I have one here in my own backyard, and I didn’t even know it.”

“The program has helped area youth become better prepared for the world of work and gain real-life experience working in a manufacturing environment,” said Richard Coffey, Senior Director of Workforce development at Gallo. “The program provides all students with the opportunity to learn lifelong skills that are needed to be successful in the workforce, and, if selected for a paid internship, students are able to gain work experience, further develop their skills and ultimately apply for a position within the winery organization.”

The job readiness and internship program developed naturally out of an existing partnership between Gallo and the Ceres High School Manufacturing Academy.

“[Gallo] has been involved with the academy from its inception when we were approached by the school district to help develop the curriculum and study options as well as providing mentors to the program,” Coffey said.

Julessa Nava Ambriz, a level four operator at Gallo and a 2015 Ceres High Graduate, learned of the job readiness program in high school.

“At first, I shrugged it off, because in high school you’re just naïve about everything,” Ambriz said.

Ambriz asked other workers at Gallo about the program and heard lots of positive feedback. She, along with some friends, decided to apply. Her friends never followed through, but Ambriz did.
“Now I really try to tell others that are still in school to pursue it,” she said. “It has given me an opportunity to have a career and start my career and go to school. I can easily progress through the company with a few years under my belt, and it’s a great feeling knowing that I’m not stuck in one spot.”

After its success, Gallo expanded its offering to other schools to include Modesto City Schools, Ceres Unified, Hughson Unified, Turlock Unified, Patterson Unified, Madera Unified and Merced Unified.

Joining the program has several steps. First, candidates apply through their school district. Then, qualified students are invited to complete a 30-hour after-school program that runs once a week for 10 weeks.

The goal is to turn out students that are job ready by teaching them interview skills, résumé writing, communication skills, conflict resolution, change management and lean principles.

“I learned that teamwork and communication is huge part of being part of a company. They tell you that it is, but you really don’t believe it until you experience it,” Ambriz said.

After the job-readiness program is completed, students can apply for internships at Gallo. Performance during the program, including attendance, is taken into consideration.

At first, internships were only available on the operations side. However, after that proved successful, Gallo began offering internships on the winegrowing side as well, in vineyard operations.

“Interns that successfully complete the program are given the opportunity to interview for positions at the end of the internship,” Coffey said.

After the first year’s success, Gallo began working with Modesto City Schools to identify the different career technical education pathways that provided the technical aptitude and knowledge that best meet the company’s current job needs.

“There are so many different opportunities to move up and so many different career choices from … analysis, to marketing, to mechanic — anything you want to pursue, you can,” said Miguel Ortega, another level four operator who completed the internship program through Ceres High.

Opportunity Stanislaus, a local organization dedicated to supporting economic growth and vitality in the community, is helping, too. They pay for students’ WorkKeys tests, a necessary component of joining the workforce program.

The organization is also working to expand the program’s reach, working alongside Gallo employees to determine future needs and train area students to fill those roles. This will include providing targeted technical and manufacturing training programs to support current Gallo employees, including former interns. All programs are being developed to complement existing programs offered by MJC.

The goal is for Opportunity Stanislaus to be a dot connecter, connecting local job seekers with employees and education through partnerships in the community.