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Does Fresno County Need More Office Space for $16 Million? Supes Will Discuss
gvw_edward_smith
By Edward Smith
Published 9 months ago on
July 17, 2023

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Fresno County Supervisors may decide Tuesday whether to purchase the final piece of the former Pelco campus in Clovis for $15.7 million.

Neither property owners nor county officials will talk about the closed-session item. It is scheduled as a discussion of what to do with an existing lease agreement for the 102,509-square-foot building now owned by Cook Land Co.

But county documents indicate that supervisors can either abandon an agreement from 2017 or purchase the building, which is near the Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

A failure to make a decision soon, however, will default the county into a 10-year, $21 million lease.

This map shows the layout of the business park where Pelco once operated in Clovis (GV Wire Illustration/Paul Marshall)

County No Longer Needs Space for Child Welfare Services

In 2017, when Fresno County officials wanted to consolidate the Department of Social Services, they looked to the building at 200 W. Pontiac Way in Clovis to house Child Welfare Services — one of the buildings formerly owned by Pelco. The building would be a part of the business park housing DSS.

Security company Pelco is now owned by Schneider Electric. It operates in northwest Fresno.

But Schneider Electric couldn’t transition out of the space fast enough. So in 2020, Jerry Cook — president of Cook Land Co. — made available the former Costco building he had purchased that is adjacent to the business park.

Cook purchased the property from Costco in 2020 for $5.5 million. The County agreed to a 19-year lease for $2.24 million a year, totaling $166 million over the life of the project.

The change allowed the county to bring CWS under one roof ahead of schedule. The conversion marks the first time a Costco was successfully converted into office space in the U.S.

But that meant the county no longer needed a home for CWS.

What to Do With $15.7 Million Agreement?

Rents for 200 W. Pontiac Way are supposed to begin Sept. 1. If the county does nothing, it will pay $165,767 a month for 102,509 square feet of office and warehouse space.

Right now, DSS occupies all of the buildings surrounding the final Pelco building. The four other buildings are in close proximity and provide a central hub for the public seeking county services:

  • 3500 Never Forget Lane houses client services and eligibility services.
  • 205 W. Pontiac Way is the DSS administrative building.
  • 250 W. Pontiac Way hosts In-House Supportive Services and Adult Protective Services
  • 380 W. Ashlan Ave (former Costco) is Child Welfare Services

Social Services also still leases property in west Fresno near Edison High School to provide county services for people in that area. Another property at 5693 E. Kings Canyon Road provides services for people in southeast Fresno. The county also operates properties in Reedley, Selma, Coalinga, and Kerman.

Linda Duchene, deputy director for Eligibility Services with DSS, said those properties are strategically located to provide services for those who cannot travel to Clovis. The DSS buildings are now operating at capacity, she said.

Supervisors can either accept the agreement, paying $15.7 million or they can terminate the agreement “on the grounds there are no longer state and federal funds,” according to the county report.

Calls made to Fresno County Counsel Daniel Cederborg and County Administrative Officer Paul Nerland were not returned by press time.

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Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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