Plans to revitalize west Fresno took a major step forward Tuesday with the unveiling of the location of a new satellite Fresno City College campus.
Educational and publicly elected dignitaries gathered at Gaston Middle School to announce the proposed location across the street. Their hope is that the campus will transform an area in need.
“This is the America I know to be great; a community that offers access to quality jobs, affordable housing, transportation, the benefits of healthy food, physical activities and most importantly, good schools,” State Center Community College District Trustee Eric Payne said.
Mayor Lee Brand also spoke during the news conference, saying much-needed vocational training is coming just in time as more jobs are being added to the city.
The land is bordered by East Church Avenue on the north, South Martin Luther King Boulevard on the east, East Jensen Avenue on the south and South Knight Avenue on the west. The Fresno City Council recently voted to annex the land and approve a $100 million mixed-use project that includes retail, a park, 600 housing units and land for the community college.
Hall and Shehadey Family Team Up
The land will be developed by 2500 MLK, LLC. It is a partnership between Sylvesta Hall, president of Blue Ocean Development America, and the Shehadey family.
State Center Trustee Miguel Arias tells GV Wire the entire project will cost about $90 million.
Of that, $16.9 million will come from the $70 million Cap & Trade pool allotted to Fresno. The city of Fresno will provide $11 million in offsets for various public works projects (streets, sewer, etc.). The remainder will come from a $485 million bond passed by State College Community District voters in 2016.
Arias also said the proposed campus would house programs such as EMT training, nursing and automotive technology.
‘Totally Transformative for West Fresno’
Hall feels this will be the catalyst for a long-neglected part of Fresno: “It goes beyond words. Being a native of Fresno for 60 years, it is just totally transformative, this project if you will.”
Fresno City College President Carole Goldsmith didn’t directly say it, she but indicated that the 26 acres set aside for the project will be donated to form the west Fresno campus.
Asked why the Blue Ocean proposal was chosen, she mentioned how West Hills College in Lemoore is on their site because of a generous donation.
The SCCCD Board of Trustees met last week in closed session about negotiations for land acquisition but did not publicly announce a decision.