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In Bakersfield, many find a California they can afford

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When Andrae Gonzales first joined Bakersfield City Council in 2017, he recalled that “the mantra was: ‘How to do less with less? for people so that they can enjoy the city?

The Bakersfield core, he added, is uniquely positioned for a revival, as young professionals drive up costs in urban centers across the country.

As proof, Mr Gonzales took a whirlwind tour of his downtown neighborhood, where for decades antique malls filled the storefronts of sturdy mid-century buildings that make its streets look like a backdrop. movies.

He ducked into the nation’s last operating Woolworth luncheonette, where nostalgic diners were given their last burgers before the building closed for refurbishment. The owners of the Five and Dime Antique Mall, which took up most of the space, were retiring. Moneywise Wealth Management was moving in.

Mr Gonzales also stopped by the 17th Place Townhouses, whose clean, modern design might not catch a second glance in another city. But for Anna Camp Smith, half of the couple who developed and own the resort, they are a symbol of a bright future.

“Just the fact that people see this kind of dense urban housing in their city opens their minds to the idea that we can really, really have an urban environment here,” she said one recent afternoon, discussing around bowls of quinoa and salad at a cafe across the street.

Two bedroom townhouses rented for $ 1,800. They are all busy now, and Ms Smith and her husband, the son of a city councilor, are developing another 49 units a few blocks away.