Fresno stadium-area redevelopment OK’d

Fresno stadium-area redevelopment OK’d
By Jim Davis
The Fresno Bee
March 31, 2004

A proposal for a $350 million to $400 million mix of housing, entertainment
and retailers in downtown Fresno won unanimous support Tuesday from the
Fresno City Council.

Forest City Enterprises envisions the development on 85 acres southeast of
Grizzlies Stadium. The project could include a lake, a river walk or a
series of fountains.

“We believe in downtown Fresno,” said Andres Freedman, project developer
with Forest City. “We believe it has a lot of potential, but we need to do a
lot of due diligence.”

The Fresno City Council told its staff to negotiate an exclusive agreement
with Forest City to develop in the area.

With an exclusive right to develop the area, Freedman said, Forest City can
start environmental, traffic and other studies and contact potential tenants
for the area. He said his company believes the area can be redeveloped.

“Market studies suggest that there’s a great opportunity,” Freedman said.

Council Member Tom Boyajian said the council hoped its decision to build the
baseball stadium would spur development in downtown.

“I was hoping that we would be able to attract someone to the dance like
you,” Boyajian said.

But property owners in the area and other residents expressed concerns about
the project’s impact.

Larry Kragh, president of Arrow Electric Motor Service, which is in the
study area, said his business has supported the city for years. He asked
that the city assist business owners who could be affected by the

“Don’t make me pay for this project,” Kragh said.

The project would be in an area generally bounded by Union Pacific Railroad,
Van Ness Avenue, Tulare Street and Freeway 41.

Forest City Enterprises, a real estate company based in Ohio, is a property
owner and partner in the MarketPlace at River Park shopping center in north

The company is one of the nation’s largest of its kind and has developed
urban centers throughout the country, said Dan Fitzpatrick, executive
director of the city’s Redevelopment Agency.

Fitzpatrick said the company is looking at redeveloping a large area of

“The area we’re talking about is as big as Universal Studios,” Fitzpatrick
said. “It’s as big as Old Town Pasadena.”

Fitzpatrick said redeveloping the area could be a boon for the city in many
ways, including more property taxes as property values rise.

The project — known as the South Stadium project — will be sandwiched
between two other major downtown developments.

To the west, a development group has proposed building hundreds of homes and
adding retail and commercial shopping to the historic Chinatown district.

To the east, Gunner-Andros Investments plans to build Old Armenian Town, a
series of high-rise office buildings anchored by a state appellate

City staffers are expected to return a negotiated agreement with Forest City
in 45 days.

The reporter can be reached at [email protected] or 441-6171.