Monday, September 26, 2011

Council approval could lead to more housing downtown

The September 29th agenda for the Fresno City Council meeting has a few interesting lines about potential upcoming projects. I say potential, because we all know that even approval and loan guarantees don't necessarily mean the project is seen to completion.

Nonetheless, they are exciting proposals, and if all are completed, downtown will get just a little bit more pleasant. The first project began planning a year or so ago, and the other two have been in the works for much longer (2007 and 2005).


The first I would like to note is a proposed project by GVUrban, the people behind recent downtown projects I highlighted last week.

This new project, on L Street and San Joaquin, will be similar to the Van Ness Cottages. They are proposing 2 story town-homes on an underutilized lot.

Units: 28
Density: 21.71 units per acre

Location:
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Current structures:
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As the project requires demolition of what may or may not be considered "historic" homes, the approval process is ongoing. Any demolition and construction, if approved, should begin next year if GVUrban is satisfied with sales at their Fulton Village property, which should open in a month. Assuming all goes well with Fulton Village and the Van Ness Cottages, we may see this open for business in 2013.



The second is an exciting proposal to reuse what is currently a significant abandoned building. This project is being worked on by the same people currently fixing the Mayflower building into lofts, and fixed the Hotel Virginia a few years ago, so they have a proven record here in Fresno.

The council is being asked (pdf) to approve an $859,868 long-term loan. The total cost of the project is $16.5 million of which $11m are expected from HUD.

The project I am talking about is rehabbing the Hotel Fresno (built in 1913) into a 72 unit apartment building: 6 affordable units, 19 moderate income, 47 market rate and ground-floor retail. The rehab will include making the exterior and lobby look as it did when new, but modernize the rest of the interior. This team began the project in 2007, when they purchased the building, and it looks like the market may now be ready for the serious renovation to begin.

Location:
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One unfortunate aspect about the location is that the construction in 2005 of the federal courthouse destroyed the street grid, leaving the main entrance of the building in an odd dead-end block.

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The rear. What used to be a street is visible.

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The side, front, and the dead-end street.

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I hope these developers are able to make this a successful project. It will be great to see not only such a large, old building come back to life, but also have a modern (non-government) residential tower in Fresno.



The third project is not in the downtown core, but part of the downtown region, on Ventura street east of 41. It is called the Allied Plaza Senior Apartments

This project requires an $818,034 loan, and will be a 52 unit affordable senior housing facility. This project began planning in 2005. Details can be found here

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The property was occupied by an eyesore.

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Seriously, who builds this?

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The project area has since been cleared.

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The project will consist of 2-story structures with central surface parking lots. The amount of parking shown in the diagram is unfortunate, but it is certainly an improvement of what was there before, and is denser than the surrounding neighborhood. The main building will front Ventura, but parking will be visible from 7th and 8th.

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I hope the council continues to support these project, and the developers behind them keep moving forward.

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