Local News

Friday, Jun 27 2014 07:40 PM

Golden State Mall closure dashes dreams, disrupts plans

  1. 1 of 10

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Veronica Lopez holds back tears as she finds out after meeting with a mall representative that the $10,000 she has paid for her daughter's Quincenaera scheduled for Sept. 13 is all but lost. She was asked last Tuesday to come in and pay the balance of the money she owed for her daughter's coming of age celebration. Friday morning she can't stand the thought of having to tell her daughter what has happened. At right is Vannesa Pena, who also has her wedding booked at the facility.

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  2. 2 of 10

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Marisol Medina shows the contract she signed with the Bakersfield Event Center at The Golden State Mall for her daughter's Quinceanera celebration. She had paid $4,000 and a $500 deposit and was due pay a total of $10,200 for the event until she found out the Golden State Mall closed.

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  3. 3 of 10

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    People wanting to talk to a Bakersfield Event Center at The Golden State Mall representative including Marisol Medina, right, and Veronica Lopez, third from right, speak to a woman, third from left, who asks them to leave the mall. The woman did agree to meet with them individually about events they had scheduled and paid for that were to be held at Bakersfield Event Center at The Golden State Mall. The mall is in foreclosure.

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  4. 4 of 10

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    People arrive at the main doors of the Golden State Mall to find the doors locked. The mall has gone into foreclosure and vendors as well as people who had scheduled events at the mall are scrambling to relocate their businesses or reschedule their events. Many people have paid thousands of dollars for events that were to be held at the mall.

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  5. 5 of 10

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    A Golden State Mall security man holds his hand in front of a television news photographer's lens at the Golden State Mall Friday morning. The mall has gone into foreclosure and vendors as well as people who had scheduled events at the mall are scrambling to relocate their businesses or reschedule their events. Many people have paid thousands of dollars for events that were to be held at the mall.

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  6. 6 of 10

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Penelope Garcia, office manager for Arredondo Multi Services at the Golden State Mall, supervises the moving of the business out of the Golden State Mall Friday. The mall has gone into foreclosure and all the power and air-conditioning has been turned off.

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  7. 7 of 10

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Vannesa Pena looks to get some answers about how the foreclosure of the Golden State Mall will impact her scheduled wedding that was to be held there. "I'm out like $20,000," she says of all the things she has booked for the wedding.

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  8. 8 of 10

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    The Golden State Mall closed its doors at 3201 F St. sometime Thursday locking out vendors and potential customers.

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  9. 9 of 10

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Jose Bravo and Edith Ortiz had paid close to $4,000 to get married on July 26 inside the Golden State Mall, but found out Thursday they may have lost the money along with the venue due to the sudden closure. Bravo signed a contract in February, but now he says they wil have to find another venue and come up with more money to get married.

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  10. 10 of 10

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    The Golden State Mall locked its doors at 3201 F St. sometime Thursday locking out vendors and customers.

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BY RUTH BROWN AND COURTENAY EDELHART Californian staff writers rbrown@bakersfield.com and cedelhart@bakersfield.com

Marisol Medina dreamed of giving her daughter a beautiful quinceanera and paid $4,500 to hold the party at Golden State Mall in November.

So when the Wasco resident learned Friday the building's owner was closing it without notice -- and without reimbursement of her money -- she was upset.

"Now what do I do?" said the single mother of four. "I saved for this. I can't lose (that money)."

The owner of the 54-year old property at 3201 F St. -- Golden State Mall, LLC -- sought Chapter 11 protection in March after defaulting on a loan in September 2013 of more than $7.4 million.

The mall's more than a dozen creditors range from Bank of America ($62,247 for credit card and car payments) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company ($48,141 for utilities), to Dell Financial ($9,500 for computers) and the City of Bakersfield ($3,097 for trash collection).

The company's offices are in Los Angeles. A call late Friday to its Los Angeles attorney was not immediately returned.

Vendors who had operated businesses inside the mall packed up their inventories and supplies Friday morning.

Rosie Arredondo, owner of Arredondo Multi-Services, a tax and document business in the mall, said she was notified about a month ago the mall owner was filing for bankruptcy.

"But we didn't get a day that we had to leave," Arredondo said. "We were surprised."

But while vendors were inside packing, nearly two dozen people like Medina who had made down payments to use portions of the 154,142-square-foot property for events, waited outside the mall's locked doors for nearly two hours trying to get information.

About 10:30 a.m., an unidentified mall employee, accompanied by two security guards, allowed them inside, along with members of the media. But the security guards quickly demanded the media leave, at one point pushing a photographer and two cameramen out the door.

Medina had saved for years for the quinceanera, paying for a $10,000 package deal that included the cost of the banquet hall venue, plus tables, chairs, linens, bartenders, security, food, decorations and clean-up services. It seemed like the perfect deal.

She also had bought her daughter's $1,300 quinceanera dress at Dreams By: La Plebada Fashion, a boutique inside the mall. The dress order was supposed to come in July but now the shop is moving out of the mall.

There were plenty of others in the same plight as Medina.

Jose Bravo and his fiancee Edith Ortiz planned to have their wedding reception at the mall's banquet hall July 26. The couple took out a $3,800 loan at 17 percent interest to rent the venue. They had invited 300 guests.

Veronica Lopez of Bakersfield paid $10,000 to use the banquet hall for her daughter's September quinceanera. She booked the space eight months ago.

Two days after her final payment earlier this week, she learned the mall was closing.

Lopez doesn't know if she'll see that $10,000 again and after speaking with the mall manager Friday she said she wasn't hopeful.

Medina took the only recourse she could: She went to the courthouse to begin the process of filing a small claim request against the mall owner.

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