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Around Kings County: Forever 21 / Kettleman Water / More

April 27,2016–

Forever 21 Building Has New Owner

The 98,000sf retail building that housed Forever 21 at the Hanford Mall has been sold to a developer, Jim Gortikov of Santa Monica in a deal that closed April 7. Gortikov owns a number of shopping centers including several in Santa Clarita, four in Bakersfield and one in Tulare.”We see Hanford as a distinct opportunity in an area with many national retail tenants already.”  Gortikov says his architects have studied the layout of the former Gottschalks to insure that if the building is divided – all spaces connect to both the interior of the mall and to the outside. The big building has 85,000sf on the ground floor and 13,000sf on the second floor.”It’s fair to say we are more likely to  lease out space to multiple tenants than one.” But Forever 21 won’t be one of them he cautions.The purchase is welcomed by mall manager Joanne Doerter adding that”now we will have a developer who will draw retailers we did not have room for before.” Doerter has been affiliated with the mall since 1995 and calls this “extremely good news.”
In other mall news Shiek Shoes is nearly doubling the size of their store with Ms Doerter expecting they will be in their larger space within in 45 days.

Endangered Species Issue Delays Clean Tap Water For Kettleman CityBNL LIZARD  2016-04-26 at 11.22.37 AM

Kettleman City’s 10-year struggle to provide clean drinking water faces a new delay as the local water district was forced to put off accepting state monies to build a treatment plant last month due to possible endangered species on land where they want to build. District engineer Joe McGahan says plans to acquire land from Chevron are on hold while a new environmental study is done.”We had planned to formally accept the $8 million state grant this March but now we must wait till March 2017.” Once state funds are in hand and bids are accepted, construction of the surface water treatment plant next to the California Aqueduct will take another 18 months, he figures. McGahan says residents will need bottled water until the new plant produces clean water at the tap – perhaps by 2020. The 1400 residents in this low income community have two wells serving the town,both high in arsenic. The community made the news in recent years on reports of a high incidence of birth defects. It’s been one hurdle after another to get good tap water to homes with the latest being a positive Prop 218 vote since water rates will go up. Now if there is a find of blunt nose leopard lizard it could force more delay and frustration. Typically the idea of changing the endangered species law has come from farmers upset over pumping restrictions.Environmental supporters have just as typically pushed back.But now California Senate candidates are talking up the idea of a waiver of the species law this week – to improve the water supply across the state of California.

pictured: Blunt Nose Leopard Lizard

Cherry Season Off To Good Start

The San Joaquin Valley’s cherry crop is off to a good and early start says Kings County grower Berton Costamagna whose family has been growing the crop since 2000.”We started picking April 20 even though the rain caused some delay.”Unlike the past year or two there has been adequate moisture and a good number of chilling hours says Berton. They grow Brooks,Tulare and Coral varieties and ship to both domestic supermarkets and overseas buyers.Prices so far are good.The family packs under the Delta Packing label in Lodi. Costamagna says “a lot of tree fruit bloomed early this year”with cherries often the first sign of summer in the supermarket produce isle. Some south Valley cherries were picked as early as April 9.”We’ve seen cooler weather recently that has slowed the process down a little.” Hail that blew through the area in recent days did little damage on their plots he says. Last year California produced 5.9 million boxes of cherries,short of the 8.5 mili box average according to the California Cherry Advisory Board. Farmers in Kings County grow cherries on around 1500 acres.

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