The Fresno office market has been pretty dry for the past few years, but it looks like things are moving again, in a pretty big way. A developer has asked the planning council to allow a 10 story, 150 foot building in northeast Fresno. The site is currently zoned for 6 stories (98 feet). 150 feet is the maximum allowed in the city outside of the downtown core, and is the upper limit of what the city defines as a "mid-rise".
The building (when eventually built, don't expect shovels any time soon) will be in an office park, nearby another relatively tall (for Fresno!) building you've probably seen off 41.
Here's the site plan. The red will be new construction....most of it acres of parking surrounding the ten story office building. The pink was slated to be another office building, but the parcel will instead be used for even more parking, to fulfill parking requirements. I'd love to be the schmuck that gets stuck with a spot over there....although naturally no one will ever be. Like in most developments, those spots will probably be vacant forever.
The yellow cross is the location of the planned building.
By the way, the massive empty lot to the right will also start construction soon.
The same developer owns this other building, which is the one most people are familiar. The new one will be similarly close to the freeway, and make an even larger impression due to its slightly taller statute.
I'm pretty excited to see a new tower go up in the city, although it's a shame to have the growth be up in this area, when downtown has so much vacant office space available. Being up north doesn't make the site immune to traffic though. Anyone who's tried to get on 41 from Friant at 8am knows it backs up, and adding more office space obviously won't alleviate that. Downtown, conversely, is pretty free of traffic.
Another disappointment with the site plan is the previously mentioned acres of parking (4.35 acres to be exact). A garage would be a much better use of space, I'd think, and allow for commercial buildings, to serve the workers. As of now, eating out means getting in a car.
Now, I know what you're thinking. Fresno is a greener, more environmentally aware place than it was a decade ago, when the rest of the site was being built. What does that mean for those who won't be arriving by car?
Well, it'll be near the 2012...I mean 2014....I mean 2016 BRT route.
And bike parking is required!
Yes, a grand total of 20 parking slots (10 whole racks) must be built. In comparison, the site will have 934 parking spaces for cars. Quite the ratio.
On the positive side, many developers would have just stretched out their 10 stories into smaller 2 story blocks, taking up even more space. And if the project had been built a decade ago, not a single bike rack would have been required.
Here's the parking plan (not shown is the pink parcel)
One bit of irony in the plan is under a "gateway designation". That means, because it's one of the first thing drivers will see when they enter Fresno, it has to be extra pretty.
So how does the city make this office park a gateway? By requiring large setbacks from the freeway (110 feet)....so drivers get to enjoy beautiful vistas of the heat absorbing asphalt. I don't quite think the city has the same definition of what makes stuff look good that the rest of us have.
I was also amused that the project required a study of shadows, to make sure the building doesn't impact nearby residents. The amusing park is that with the acres of parking, a freeway on one side, and a quasi-freeway on the other, it would have to be a pretty damn massive structure to cast a shadow anywhere near another property.
So what's this bad boy going to look like? Honestly, the rendering is pretty poor, and straight out of 1980's silicon valley. Here's hoping the finished building comes out looking a little better. I'm quite fond of the existing 6-story, shown above.
To be fair, the color adds a lot to the rendering. If you want to have architectural nightmares, feast on this:
Feel free to leave your guess as to when you think this building will open for business. As Fancher Creek and countless other developments have shown, city approval (which this will no doubt receive) doesn't actually mean construction.
I'll be an optimist and say 2015, that is unless the entire valley has become an inland sea.
If you're interested in the proposal where these details came from, you can find it here (large PDF).