Thanks to a robust economy, a business-friendly climate and the desirability of Tehachapi, our downtown is operating at full strength. Buildings that sat vacant due to a variety of factors will be unoccupied no more.
The old Ace Hardware building at 228 Tehachapi Blvd. is currently being renovated to serve as company headquarters for World Wind & Solar. The design is impressive and will offer a welcome gateway to downtown.
Meanwhile, across the street, the former lumber shed and bulk yard is under construction. Thanks to a transportation grant and partnership with Union Pacific Railroad, we are adding sorely needed public downtown parking spaces, something frequently requested by nearby business owners. We hope to provide ample parking for carpoolers as well as a safe location for regional and other bus lines.
What was once C & P Market, then the Moose Lodge, has been purchased by an investment group from the San Joaquin Valley. Their plan to remodel the building to serve as a restaurant and event venue goes in front of the city of Tehachapi Planning Commission this week. This group runs several successful restaurants in other communities and we wish them the best here in Tehachapi.
Next door, at the corner of Green and F streets, the former First Interstate Bank building, which was purchased two years ago by Stray Leaves Vineyard, will be under construction this week. The building permits were issued and the work begins to transform the space into downtown’s first wine tasting room, a testament to the expanding wine industry in our valley.
Across Green Street, the former St. Vincent de Paul thrift store building has been sold. The design concept will allow for another space to be revitalized and occupied downtown. It sat vacant for just under a year, but several buyers were interested until the right one finally came along.
Nearby, at the corner of Green and E streets, Ryan Beauchamp, the talented builder responsible for the downtown library, purchased the former Dr. Gassaway medical building and has started his renovation process, which included putting a new high-pitch roof on the structure to add to its downtown character. Despite just recently starting construction, he has already leased the space to a local barbershop and the recently established Tehachapi Academy of Dramatic Arts, a modeling and acting school owned by a New York University-educated actress and teacher now living locally.
Development and redevelopment is a process. Buildings will be vacant from time to time, but when the right investors and the right people find that they can operate a successful business while adding to the culture and overall appeal of downtown Tehachapi, they don’t hesitate to invest. Believe me, we too prefer buildings to be vibrant and our team has worked hard behind the scenes to make all four of the projects I just described a reality.
So pardon our dust a little while downtown goes through yet another phase of revitalization making a strong attraction for Tehachapi even stronger.
Greg Garrett is Tehachapi's city manager.