$20 million cultural center and amphitheater coming to 21st and H streets, courtesy of Dolores Huerta Foundation

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – One nondescript block in downtown Bakersfield is about to get a new look. In about 18 months, the Dolores Huerta Peace and Justice Center, a $20 million cultural arts and learning center, will occupy an entire city block. The project will be constructed on land bounded by 21st, 22nd, Eye and H streets, a block north of the Fox Theater. Right now, it’s mostly just a parking lot.

The Peace and Justice Center will have a 36,000 square foot, two story headquarters for the Dolores Huerta Foundation, classrooms for art, dance, music and other activities, a 20,000 square foot amphitheater, a day care with two classrooms and a playground, and a new, two-story, 8,000-square-foot Self-Help Federal Credit Union branch.

The fundraising effort has already reached 5 percent of its goal, according to the foundation’s executive director, Camila Chavez. The California Endowment has given $700,000 and the AIDS Foundation has pledged $300,000, contingent on a matching gift. That’s $1 million down, $19 million to go.

“We’ll have dance classes, music classes, art classes, digital studios — we’re going to make all that a big component of the cultural center,” Chavez said.

Rodriguez Associates Architects & Planners Inc., the San Diego-based architect working on the project, has not provided renderings just yet, but 17 News will share them with viewers as soon as they become available.

Assistant Bakersfield City Manager Jacqui Kitchen confirms that city staff members have had discussions with the principals of the project, but says the project is in the very early stages.

The ceremonial groundbreaking is tentatively set for April 16 – about a week after the iconic civil rights leader’s 90th birthday – and acquisition and initial land use improvements on the city block are expected to be complete by June. Construction of the cultural center and credit union branch will get underway in September, with the grand opening of the cultural center, credit union branch and two-classroom day care set for October 2021. Then, if all goes well, the 20,000-square-foot amphitheater will open in winter 2022.

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