BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — It’s 50 empty acres now, but use your imagination on this expanse of dirt and weeds in northwest Bakersfield. In a few years — we don’t know how many years — it’s going to be what Adventist Health is calling a health and wellness complex.
It’s been the “future home” of a number of projects. Bakersfield Commons — 240 acres on or near the corner of Coffee and Brimhall — was at one time going to be a theme park — a water park called Buccaneer Bay. In 2013 it was going to feature a baseball stadium and host the now defunct Bakersfield Blaze.
And, for years now, it has been various incarnations of a mixed-use, master-planned community.
All, for one reason or another, fell through.
But this time, we’re seeing the most concrete proposal yet. In a press conference Tuesday morning, Adventist Health of Bakersfield announced plans to build a major health care complex on the east side of Coffee Road — although details are still murky. It may include a hospital — and it may not. Adventist Kern President Daniel Wolcott says the pandemic has compelled Adventist to reevaluate possible uses.
“We’re in the process of a very deep assessment of exactly what we should do in the future,” he said, “to utilize this campus to drive the health and well being of the nearly one million people who live in Kern County.”
According to Adventist, it’s a $26.7 million transaction with World Oil Corp. — almost $16 million of it a donation from the Roth family, which owns that company. The complex — construction timetable still undetermined — will be dubbed the Roth Family Campus.
Health care needs aside, the development will have big implications for the rest of Bakersfield Commons — which at 240 acres is one of the largest pieces of undeveloped land under single ownership within the Bakersfield city limits.
World Oil executives see the Adventist project transforming the area from an unappealing industrial graveyard into an attractive and desirable place — entertainment, retail, office and housing smack dab in the middle of a fast growing metro area.
Steven Roth of World Oil said the development west of Coffee will fit hand in glove with Adventist’s project east of Coffee.
“We’re going to build this as kind of a lifestyle center, so there’s bike paths, walking paths, there’s going to be gardens,” he said. “It’s going to be very different than what has been built. So it’s going to be very contiguous with what Adventist is doing.”
Brother Robert Roth said the Adventist project will help World Oil find tenants and partners for the main Bakersfield Commons project, which has languished without a solid anchor tenant.
“We would have been marketing an empty piece of property,” he said. “Now we have a property where there’s a vision.”
The question beyond what happens to the 50 acres east of Coffee Road is what happens on the other side of Coffee, where more than 200 acres are waiting for development. Stay tuned.