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Motel on Union Avenue purchased by City to be turned into affordable housing

Posted at 7:24 PM, May 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-12 22:24:13-04
  • The City of Bakersfield purchased the Ramkabir Motel on Union Avenue to turn it into affordable housing and one local family-owned business feels these changes can’t come soon enough.
  • Rami Shadrawi and his family have owned the Arrow Gas Market on Union for four years now. He said in fact, there was a time when residents at the Ramkabir Motel were some of his best customers.

The City of Bakersfield purchased the Ramkabir Motel on Union Avenue to turn it into affordable housing and one local family-owned business feels these changes can’t come soon enough.

Rami Shadrawi and his family have owned the Arrow Gas Market on Union for four years now. He said in fact, there was a time when residents at the Ramkabir Motel were some of his best customers.

“You’re talking about like almost 800 people across the street that come almost daily," he said.

The motel was at that point being used for residential housing, but after a fire closed it down last October, it’s remained vacant and a perfect location for illegal activity.

“It’s almost like on a daily basis there’s a problem out there," Shadrawi said.

Even before the fire, the Ramkabir — like much of Union Ave. — had a sorted past.

“Since 2002, there had been over 25 code enforcement violations at this property," said City Councilman Andrae Gonzales.

Gonzales pushed for the city to purchase the motel, securing $1.4 million in ARPA funds. He said he hopes the motel — once renovated into 37 affordable housing units — will act as a catalyst for the blighted properties and crime happening on Union.

“In my opinion, it’s far better for the city whenever we can to get control of these vacant buildings, get them under our control, so that we can control the destiny of that building and help reshape the trajectory of the neighborhood," Gonzales said.

Shadrawi said when he heard of the city’s plans for the motel.. he and his fellow business owners on Union were excited after years of feeling fed up with the reputation of the street.

“Especially like in the nights, the corner right there is like full of [prostitutes] one of the main issues that like even the customers complain about is like naked girls just on the corner of my store," he said.

Shadrawi and his family have purchased the vacant lot next to the gas market to open more businesses and he hopes once the motel is turned into affordable housing — they can offer those residents work opportunities.. and continue the improvement of Union.


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