BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – For more than a year now, local historic curators have been trying to help people visualize what the 130-year-old Sumner Station could look like, given enough money and effort. . This visualization effort just got a little easier.
Ordiz Melby Architects has put together a two-minute video animation that helps those with difficult imaginations see what the old, but massive, Union Pacific Train Depot could look like with an infusion of creative investment and renovations.
Bakersfield Councilman Andrae Gonzales, whose 2nd Ward includes Old Town Kern and the train station so important to the town’s development, led the charge to preserve and restore the monument. He sees it as the main catalyst for a revival of this once thriving part of town – as renovated old train stations have done in run-down parts of other towns – and he has been working on the phone looking for buyers, of lessors and/or occupants – and it’s on a strict schedule. The city has a maintenance lease with Union Pacific that runs through the summer.
Gonzales thinks animation can help convince the right group of the possibilities.
“It really is a staple piece of Old Town Kern,” Gonzales said. “You can’t tear down the most beautiful historic structure in Kern Old Town and then turn around and say you want to redevelop Kern Old Town. It just doesn’t work. You cannot reconcile these two thoughts. You need to save the Sumner Depot if you’re serious about giving Old Town Kern a chance to thrive.
Gonzales is happy to narrate a tour of the Ordiz-Melby animation.
“It takes you from the east and it flies along Sumner Street heading west,” he said, “so you capture, first, the western part of the building and the southern half from the Sumner depot there you have kind of a walkway with lots of landscaping and lush landscaping and nice trees and you have exposed brickwork so behind all that stucco is the original brick facade of the train depot and I think the intent of the flyover, and the architects who created this flyover video had to capture that feature of this brick facade.
“All the windows remained intact. Nothing like it in town. But these windows will remain intact as long as we preserve the building. And then the video loops to the north side of the building and captures what may be there – plenty of outdoor seating, plenty of space for people, for families to have lunch, or dinner may -be, and simply recreate. So to me, that really suggests that this is really a gathering space, a community gathering space.
Gonzales says it’s too early to start naming names and announcing uses, but he says there has been progress.
“There were a number of people who approached me for some of their ideas on how to make this project work, how to fund a project,” he said. “Certainly there’s a huge up-front cost to getting that building back up to code and to functional use, you know, renovating the building, making sure it’s safe, and then adapting it so it can find a new life. , like a public market. It’s not cheap, but it will be an investment. But then again, I think we can find the right incentives, maybe grant opportunities, that can make it work and pencil it.
Everyone seems to like the idea of old buildings being remodeled, not everyone likes the idea of spending a few million dollars to do it, but could a realistic vision of what that renewal might look like move the needle? People like Andre Gonzales count on it.