Former East Hills Mall gets new owners

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The former East Hills Mall is now under new ownership.

Stephen Zimmerman of ZDI, Inc. and Michael Heslov, a private investor and developer, have joined together to acquire the former mall in northeast Bakersfield. The partners plan to begin demolishing the existing structures in August to make room for new construction.

Retail Equities, LLC out of Modesto was the seller.

“We are extremely impressed with the diverse economy in the Bakersfield market and the quality of growth and development in the city,” Zimmerman said. “This property is extremely well located and is ideally suited for new commercial and perhaps mixed-use development.”

Vincent Roche with Cushman & Wakefield consulted on the sale. Roche said new development could include retail, hospitality, housing and more, but that no firm decisions have been made at this time, as the owners are waiting to see what the market looks like once demolition is expected to be completed by early next year.

“Retailers are getting smaller and there’s fewer of them, so it’s really question of whether there is enough market demand to absorb it in retail,” he said. “They’re going to look at all potential commercial development opportunities and determine what’s the best use of the property.”

Efforts to redevelop the East Hills Mall have been bumpy for the past several years. Bakersfield-based City Lights, LLC and MarkChris Investments, LLC had purchased the property a few years ago with plans to replace the existing mall with a new open-air shopping center.

However, in 2019, the investors were forced to sell the property back to its original owners, Save Mart Companies Inc., for $10 after defaulting on a $7.5 million loan for the project.

Roche said he’s happy that progress is being made toward redeveloping the property

“We’re really excited to finally be able to take what is truly a great piece of property not only in northeast Bakersfield but the city as a whole to work with owners that have a vision to tear down what is old and obsolete…and start fresh,” he said.

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