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Shafter Correctional Facility sits empty, city debating options

Shafter Correctional Facility sits empty, city debating options
Posted at 6:11 PM, May 15, 2024

SHAFTER, Calif. (KERO) — Since its closure in October 2020, the Shafter Modified Community Correctional Facility has remained dormant. Now, the city finds itself between a rock and a hard place when trying to craft a plan to demolish or revamp it.

  • Shafter City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez gave 23ABC a tour of the Shafter MCCF earlier this week to get an idea of the inside of the facility and also learn about what the city plans to do with the facility and the property it sits on.
  • Gonzalez said the city is internally debating options, but acknowledged they will likely face challenges when trying to decide.
  • Gonzalez said if the city opts to demolish the building, they would have to figure out what would go in its place and also have to figure out the financial aspects of it as well.
  • If the city opts to demolish and remove the building, and then sell the property, Gonzalez estimates the city would lose a substantial amount of money on the deal because the property value wouldn't cover the costs associated with the demolition.
  • Lastly, if the city opts to refurbish the MCCF, there will also be a hefty cost associated with bringing the building back up to code and adding things like electrical and internet connections.
  • While the fate of the building and property is still up for debate, Gonzalez said the city is drawing on similar experiences that other municipalities have faced.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

I’m Sam Hoyle, your Shafter Neighborhood Reporter.

Depending on how long you’ve lived in Shafter, you might recognize the building behind me, and if you don’t, welcome to the Shafter Modified Community Correctional Facility… Prison… It’s a Prison.

23ABC got a tour inside the defunct facility earlier this week to see the interior. Shafter City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez says according to the city’s estimations, there are several hurdles they’ll need to clear if they want to do something with it

1. There are tens of thousands of square feet of concrete to deal with if they want to demolish it, and that can get expensive, and then the city has to figure out what to build on the five-acre plot.

2. Even if the city wanted to demolish the building and then sell the land, Gonzalez says the city would likely lose money because the land value wouldn’t cover the cost of the demolition and removal of the rubble.

3. If the city wants to keep the existing structure. Gonzalez says there are limitations to retrofitting and repurposing the building like trying to run internet and electric cabling.

But that doesn’t mean the city is up a creek completely.

Gonzalez said the City is having internal discussions on what could come of the facility and they’re willing to draw on experiences that other cities facing a similar situation have had to deal with…

“We’ve looked at other cities and other states that had former facilities like ours and it ranges from like incubators, to call centers, to one was even like a tap room for a brewery. So, people have gotten really creative with what they’ve done, but what we’re talking about here is 85,000 square feet of concrete.”

But how did the city get here?

According to information provided by the city, in the late 1980s, the California Department of Corrections negotiated the operation of Correctional Facilities with six Kern County cities, Shafter being one of them. Shafter then contracted out the facility’s construction to a private developer, and several years later, the city passed bond measures to buy the facility. Over time, the security levels changed, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation eventually phased out the facility.

When asked about the closure of the Shafter MCCF, a spokesperson for CDCR said: "Those facilities were contracted to address overcrowding, and were never intended to be a permanent solution."

Leading us to now: a dormant building made of 85,000 square feet of concrete.

Gonzalez said despite the hurdles he discussed.. the hope is to have at least a direction, and hopefully even have a plan in the coming months.

“Now we have a new economic development director and we’ll be focused on ways that we might be able to repurpose this and then we’ll make a presentation on council on some of these different options, but they’re aware of the fact that: it’s a prison.”


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