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Friday, Feb 10 2006 11:22 AM

Club eyes tower's top-flight vistas

By JAMES BURGER, Californian staff writer e-mail: jburger@bakersfield.com

The Petroleum Club of Bakersfield should seal a deal next week to move from Truxtun Avenue to the top of the Stockdale Tower office building at 5060 California Ave.

A permit for the move was approved by the city of Bakersfield Board of Zoning Adjustment on Tuesday.

Petroleum Club General Manager Thomas Ford confirmed the move is in the works though he said the deal with the building developer, Terry Moreland, won't be finalized until next week.

"We still have a contingency to back out," Ford said.

According to plans filed with the city, the private business club would move to the top floor of the 12-story building -- capturing one of the most panoramic views of Bakersfield for its members.

A bar and grill, grand ballroom, kitchens and library would be built into the 14,500 square feet of space.

The floor has wrap-around plate-glass windows that offer a 360-degree view of the city.

Ford said he did not want to release much information about the deal because it is not yet final.

But he said those involved are working hard to close the deal and complete the move by November.

"We are moving as fast as reasonably possible," he said.

The top 11 floors of the tower were formerly held by Aera Energy LLC. That company moved out in July 1999 and developers with Savannah Teachers Properties planned to refurbish the building for a mix of new tenants.

Also Tuesday, the Board of Zoning Adjustment approved a conditional use permit that will allow the reincarnation of Venture Out RV to move into the vacant House2Home superstore south of Panama Lane along Highway 99.

"I'm glad to see some vacant buildings being used -- especially ones this large," board member Dennis Fidler said before approving the project.

Buddy Maltone, a partner in Venture Out, said he and his San Francisco Bay-area partners were tempted by the visibility of the 102,492-square-foot building along Highway 99.

Maltone was a western region general manager for Recreation USA, which was formerly Holiday RV Superstores -- which bought the former Venture Out RV business in August 1995.

Maltone has been with the company since the days of the old Venture Out RV store on South Union Avenue.

Now, he said, he and his partners are reviving Venture Out.

The building on Panama Lane has been vacant since Jan. 20 after House2Home declared bankruptcy and closed its store after only six months in Bakersfield.

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