Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Fresno Council Cuts T-Mobile Lease Short Amid Spiral Garage Debate
gvw_david_taub
By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 1 year ago on
October 24, 2022

Share

The Spiral Garage may be old, but is it a historical landmark?

Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias floated the idea at last week’s City Council meeting. The discussion came under the item to extend a lease for cell phone provider T-Mobile to use the garage for its equipment.

“The city should not be using historic buildings for the placement of these antennas. It’s not in our best interest,” Arias said.

Arias cited the desire to declare the downtown garage a historic landmark as one of the reasons to prevent technology providers from using the space.

Speaking at the council meeting, T-Mobile representatives warned that cell coverage, especially for thousands of Fresno Unified students who use its equipment, would be in jeopardy.

T-Mobile first entered into a 20-year contract with the city to utilize the Spiral Garage in 2002. With the lease expiring, the company requested another 20-year lease. Instead, through Arias’ urging, the City Council voted 4-2 for a two-year renewal. Mike Karbassi and Garry Bredefeld voted no; Esmeralda Soria recused herself because her fiancé, Terance Frazier, owns property in the area.

The lease was for $436,000 total for the 20-year renewal (the fees would increase over time). Now, it will be $17,500 a year.

Arias Makes His Case

The city built the garage in 1968 for $3 million — $26 million in today’s dollars according to the federal inflation tool. It was leased to retailer Gottschalks until 1988 when the store closed its downtown Fresno location. A 2018 deal to sell the garage (and adjacent Gottschalks building) to Club One Casino eventually fell through.

The deal at the time brought complaints from other developers, namely Terance Frazier. His company planned to build a mixed-use development across the street. That deal fell through earlier this year.

Arias cited several reasons for wanting T-Mobile, and eventually AT&T — which also leases space — to vacate the Spiral Garage. He said space currently occupied by cell phone equipment is needed for future vehicle parking.

“That garage is all the parking that we have for all the future housing in downtown Fresno. At some point, we’re going to be maxed out on parking and we’re going to need those parking spots,” Arias said.

City staff, though, said only two spaces are used.

“We didn’t believe that caused enough of a concern,” city planning director Jennifer Clark said.

Arias said there were plenty of alternative sites in and around the area, including the use of city traffic signals. He cited $80 billion in profits for T-Mobile, enough to find another spot. Two years is plenty of time to find a new location, he said. And, the city would be mandated to approve plans for a new tower.

He said he intends to seek historic protection for the garage within 90 days.

“My office intends to seek the historic designation of the Spiral Garage, given the significance architecturally and to the city’s history and its role as an anchor building for the historic district,” Arias said from the dais.

City staff pointed out that a historic designation would not preclude leases for cell phone equipment.

A city staff report said an attempt to declare the Spiral Garage a historical area was made before.

“The Spiral Garage was evaluated in April 2011 by Historic Resources Group; at that time it was determined that the property was not eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. While the Fulton Corridor Specific Plan found that the building could be a contributor to a potential local district, no district has been adopted in the Fresno Local Register of Historic Places. The property is not individually listed on the Local Register of Historic Places,” the report said.

Arias noted that revenue from the cell leases goes into the general fund and is not necessarily re-invested into the Spiral Garage.

T-Mobile, Councilmembers Skeptical

(City of Fresno)

Maps provided by T-Mobile show a significant coverage decrease if cellular antennas are removed from the Spiral Garage.

Several T-Mobile employees spoke in favor of the 20-year extension.

Cia Parker, T-Mobile’s director of networking engineering and operations, told the City Council that 8,000 Fresno Unified students use company equipment, part of a program to provide broadband services to underserved communities. Those services would be at risk if T-Mobile has to move its cell equipment.

“There is not an adjacent cell site that we can place right now,” Parker said. “If this site is removed, it will create a hole in the coverage that will not be replaced by the surrounding sites. So it will cause the loss of coverage.”

Public safety could also be affected. T-Mobile official Rodrigo de la Rosa said 868 calls to 911 were made in the last year from the Spiral Garage alone.

“(It is) a really key place situated where there’s a lot of emergencies that need to be answered. Without that site, they would go unanswered,” de la Rosa said.

AT&T currently has a lease to use the Spiral Garage through 2042.

“I don’t feel comfortable treating one company different than the other. I don’t understand why,” Karbassi said.

Councilmen Luis Chavez and Garry Bredefeld echoed similar sentiments.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

$11M State Grant Will Help Fresno’s Emergency Shelter Beds, Mental Health Services

DON'T MISS

City Council Finally Gives New NW Fresno Costco a Green Light

DON'T MISS

Prop 47 Reformers Send Nearly a Million Signatures to Sacramento

DON'T MISS

BTC Scammy Scams, Impact of Blockchain on Global Markets: Crypto The WonderDog Show

DON'T MISS

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

DON'T MISS

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

DON'T MISS

Cavinder Twins Are Returning to Miami for Their Last Season

DON'T MISS

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

DON'T MISS

Savannah Bananas Dominate Social Media, Sell Out Stadiums Nationwide Including Fresno

DON'T MISS

Biden is Off on Details of His Uncle’s WWII Death as He Calls Trump Unfit to Lead the Military

UP NEXT

City Council Finally Gives New NW Fresno Costco a Green Light

UP NEXT

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

UP NEXT

Biden is Off on Details of His Uncle’s WWII Death as He Calls Trump Unfit to Lead the Military

UP NEXT

Big Names in Rap, Christian Music, and Comedy Headline Must-See Weekend Entertainment

UP NEXT

Attorney Suing Fresno Grizzlies for $5 Million Is No Stranger to ‘Ladies Night’ Cases

UP NEXT

Hagrid Has a Bit of a Playful Side, but the Heart of a Giant. And He’s Ready for Adoption

UP NEXT

Biden Backs House’s Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel While Speaker Johnson Battles to Retain Position

UP NEXT

Senate Dismissed Two Articles of Impeachment, Ending Trial on Mayorkas

UP NEXT

Biden Pledges to Block Japanese Takeover of US Steel and Promises Tariffs on Chinese Steel

UP NEXT

Don Arax Talks About His New Football Job at Visalia’s Central Valley Christian

David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

BTC Scammy Scams, Impact of Blockchain on Global Markets: Crypto The WonderDog Show

9 hours ago

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

10 hours ago

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

10 hours ago

Cavinder Twins Are Returning to Miami for Their Last Season

11 hours ago

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

12 hours ago

Savannah Bananas Dominate Social Media, Sell Out Stadiums Nationwide Including Fresno

14 hours ago

Biden is Off on Details of His Uncle’s WWII Death as He Calls Trump Unfit to Lead the Military

15 hours ago

Big Names in Rap, Christian Music, and Comedy Headline Must-See Weekend Entertainment

15 hours ago

US and UK Issue New Sanctions on Iran in Response to Tehran’s Weekend Attack on Israel

15 hours ago

Will State AG Rob Bonta Jump Into 2026 Race for CA Governor?

15 hours ago

$11M State Grant Will Help Fresno’s Emergency Shelter Beds, Mental Health Services

Fresno got a $10.9 million piece of California grant money to shelter people living in encampments. The money from California’s $192 m...

8 hours ago

8 hours ago

$11M State Grant Will Help Fresno’s Emergency Shelter Beds, Mental Health Services

8 hours ago

City Council Finally Gives New NW Fresno Costco a Green Light

9 hours ago

Prop 47 Reformers Send Nearly a Million Signatures to Sacramento

Crypto the WonderDog Show
9 hours ago

BTC Scammy Scams, Impact of Blockchain on Global Markets: Crypto The WonderDog Show

10 hours ago

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

10 hours ago

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

11 hours ago

Cavinder Twins Are Returning to Miami for Their Last Season

12 hours ago

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend