City history or red tape?
For many years, the term “Business Friendly Fresno” has been heard at City Hall in an effort to make it easy to expand the economy. But red tape and roadblocks from a city commission is preventing one man from turning a dilapidated home, into a café.
Eric Lindvall bought the home near Community Regional Medical Center, hoping to improve the neighborhood.
“As a property owner, I want to be able to do the right thing and make it safe. I hope the city would understand that and not limit me on what I can do,” says Lindvall.
He applied for a demolition permit. During the inspection process, the city determined the home may be historic. “Apparently you cannot demolish it. You cannot alter the structural integrity of it. That would obviously change the inner workings of the property itself and what you can put there.” Being placed on the city’s local historic register would prevent Lindvall from demolishing parts of the exterior. He felt that limited his prospects.
The case went to the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. Chairman Patrick Boyd explains what they do. “It is essentially to assess the historic future of structures and facilities within the city limits,” Boyd says.
The property on the 200-block of Clark Street is known as The Bruner Home, datimg back to the 1920s. It is named for the family who lived there. The patriarch, David Bruner was a mailman.
“The house is in fantastic shape for the age that it is. It represents kind of a broader community,” Boyd says, as to why the commission felt the home was worth preserving.
At their October 2016 meeting, the commission voted 5-0 to list the Bruner Home on the Local Register of Historic Resources. That was over the objection of Lindvall who pleaded his case to no avail. He says he spent at least $20,000 to keep the building secure while awaiting a decision on if he can move forward on his renovation plans.
At one point, according to the meeting minutes, a commissioner and city staffer suggest that Lindvall turn the unit into a rental instead.
Boyd says they don’t want to impede Lindvall from starting a business, just preserve the historical integrity.
The home is in the district of councilman Clint Olivier. He sides with Lindvall. “I come down on the side of property rights. In this case, if the owner is not interested in having it be part of that registry, then I am going to side of the owner,” Olivier tells GV Wire.
The city council has the final say. That decision is scheduled for Thursday (March 16).