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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
What is the "hottest retail spot" in Bakersfield? That would be the west side, where new grocery stores, restaurants and retail stores are in future plans.
Tuesday on "First Look with Scott Cox," commercial real estate broker Duane Keathley talked about the local retail market in Bakersfield.
While Valley Plaza is hopping with customers, East Hills Mall has numerous vacant spaces.
One reason for this is the difference in population and demographics between the east and west side of Bakersfield, Keathley said.
Recently, Keathley and his team did a study with the owners of the East Hills Mall that focused on finding out whether the east side was either under or over retailed.
"The national average is 26 square feet of retail per person; the east side only has 12," Keathley said.
Based on those studies, there needs to be more retail on the east side, Keathley said. Although East Hills Mall seems like a logical place to start, it's a major project.
"We're talking about a half a million square foot location. It's a large undertaking," he said.
The current owners are looking at redeveloping the mall, which could mean completely razing the mall and starting over or it could mean trying to modify it and fill the existing boxes, Keathley said.
Keathley's guess is East Hills Mall will not continue to be an indoor mall.
"The future is going to be in more outdoor malls. People are looking for a shopping experience and entertainment," the real estate broker said. "Retail space is also going to get smaller."
Unlike the east side of Bakersfield, the southwest area continues to grow, specifically in The Shops at River Walk.
Besides the existing chain restaurants located along Stockdale Highway, a Sprouts Farmers Market is coming soon, Keathley said.