Why Developers and Millennials are Taking a Closer Look at This Central Valley City

Is this the beginning of a Bakersfield boom?

For many 30- and 40-somethings who grew up in Bakersfield and promptly left, the lure of opportunity in big cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco once proved too irresistible. But as many find themselves priced out of their adopted metros, some are taking a second look at hometown living as a potential long-term investment.

Austin Smith is one of those prodigal sons of Bakersfield. Now 37, he moved back to the Central Valley city in 2014 and worked on the development of the successful 17th Place Townhomes, a modern, amenity-rich residential project in the city’s core.

According to LA Curbed, “The 17th Place Townhomes helped bring more attention to a newly christened neighborhood, Eastchester, that’s beginning to blossom, and includes restaurants, coffee shops, and new businesses. In this formerly industrial stretch of town, business owners are finding new uses for old buildings, including Cafe Smitten, another Smith project, and Dot x Ott, a just-opened seasonal kitchen that sources its produce from a farm 10 miles away.

“Though tiny, the downtown turnaround is palpable,” says Debbie Lewis, a wealth manager who moved back to Bakersfield a few years ago.

“’The downtown that I grew up hearing about and knew as a young adult was a ghost town that people were hesitant to visit and a place that businesses had a hard time sustaining,’ she says. ‘Now, it appears to be growing at a slow but steady pace and an inspiring amount of businesses are continuing to decide to take that leap, get creative, and get in on the action. People are starting to see the positive impact of investing more care, money, and time in our downtown.’”

Read more about how Bakersfield hopes to diversify its economy and attract more entrepreneurship and future residents here.

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