East Hills Mall development faces more obstacles

    East Hills Mall in Bakersfield, Calif., is seen Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 28, 2016. (KBAK/KBFX photo/Kristen Powers)

    The East Hills Mall renovations may be facing even more delays.

    The local partner developers and owners, City Lights LLC and MarkChris Investments LLC, were issued a notice of default on Jan. 16 after they failed to make a $7.5 million loan payment last summer.

    The development partners have until April 16 to pay $7.6 million to become current with their payments or the property may be sold again.

    While this doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the project at East Hills Mall, it may prolong an ongoing problem with fires and crime in the area.

    The Bakersfield Fire Department has been called out to the location 20 times in the last three months.

    “It definitely has had an impact on us,” Casey Snow, battalion chief and PIO for the Bakersfield Fire Department, said.

    Snow added every time his department is called out, it creates a drag on resources because the location is so massive.

    When the department is called out to East Hills Mall for a fire, it deploys many resources.

    “Three engines, two trucks, two battalion chiefs, a public information officer, arson units. So, it really draws down on what we can cover in other parts of our city,” Snow said.

    The Bakersfield Police Department has felt in the burden of the empty space sprawling 350,500 square feet. BPD Sgt. Nathan McCauley said there’s been 86 different calls to the East Hills Mall within the past year.

    “Any time we have large abandoned buildings, it does create a place where we frequently have problems with transients breaking into areas they’re not supposed to,” McCauley said.

    The development partners could still renegotiate the terms of their loan therefore keeping the possibility of the proposed open-air shopping center or they could walk away from the property all together.

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