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Politics Killed Deal for Vacant Fresno Building. Now, Who Wants to Move In?
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 1 month ago on
April 30, 2024

The city could sell the long-vacant Berkeley Building, left, to the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation. (GV Wire/David Taub)

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The chains could be coming off a vacant downtown Fresno building.

After politics shut down the development of the abandoned Berkeley’s Department Store building — at 887 Fulton Street — the city has a new deal under consideration at Thursday’s Fresno City Council meeting.

The Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation wants to buy and renovate the building at Fulton and Kern streets.

“The FAHF is optimistic and hopeful that we can continue to expand our business services to our community and contribute to more economic activity in downtown Fresno,” said Dora Westerlund, FAHF president and CEO.

City documents reveal FAHF wants to develop the Berkeley Building “for office uses as an expansion of its mission to incubate and provide support services to small business.”

“If given the opportunity to develop in the Berkley building, we are looking forward to continue expanding our programs and services to better serve our community,” Westerlund said.

Technically owned by the Housing Successor to the Redevelopment Agency, the city council, acting as the Agency, is scheduled to vote on entering a Disposition and Development agreement with FAHF. The organization will have two years to finish construction.

Although the fair market value is listed at $81,000, the city is willing to part with the building for $1. FAHF would use a $3 million federal grant, and $750,000 of matching funds, to renovate. A few blocks away on Fulton Street, FAHF utilized federal grants to renovate the building that currently serves as its headquarters.

The chained-up front door of the Berkeley Building at 887 Fulton Street in downtown Fresno. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Previous Deal for Building Died

The Berkeley building, a two-story 11,250 square-foot mid-century modern next to the center field gate at Chukchansi Park, opened in 1960, but has long been vacant. It was designed by Fresno architect Alastair Simpson.

Developers Mehmet Noyan and Terance Frazier wanted to develop the block into a $32 million, mixed-use housing/retail development. The developers entered into a DDA with the city in 2014.

But various delays prevented any renovations and new building. The developers asked for another extension in 2022, but deal only received four votes from the city council when it needed five.

City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld said he problems with Frazier’s involvement based on his operations of city-owned Granite Park. Esmeralda Soria, then a councilmember, had a to recuse herself because of romantic partnership with Frazier. The two said they have married since.

Soria is now a state Assemblymember.

Noyan Frazier Capital, L.P. walked away from the project, allowing the city to place it back on the market.

Dyer Nominates Former Councilmember for Planning Commission

Linda Calandra (LinkedIn)

Wednesday is likely Brad Hardie’s last meeting as a Fresno planning commissioner. Mayor Jerry Dyer finally nominated a replacement on the board.

The city council will consider Dyer’s nominee, Linda Calandra on Thursday.

Calandra is a retired fundraiser for nonprofits, and a one-term Fresno city councilmember — serving District 2 from 1993 to 1997. She also worked eight years with the Foundation for Fresno County Public Library.

“As a former City Councilmember, she is aware of the importance of land use decisions and was involved in the City’s General Plan Update during her tenure as a Councilmember.  I am confident she will become a valued member of the Planning Commission,” Dyer told Politics 101.

Hardie, president of Regency Property Management, served as commissioner since 2018. His term expired in 2023, but city rules allow a commissioner to serve until a replacement is made. He will remain serving the city. The city council approved Hardie for the civil service board earlier this month.

The planning commission serves as Dyer’s voice on city land use matters. Although decisions on things like rezoning and permits are ultimately up to the city council, the mayor does not have veto matter on such issues.

If approved, Calandra would serve through June 30, 2027.

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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

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