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Fresno Has Big Plans for Chukchansi Park Lot. Do They Even Own It?
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 1 month ago on
May 21, 2024

Rendering of a new housing and parking lot project the city of Fresno plans for the parking lot across the street from Chukchansi Park. (Facebook/City of Fresno)

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The city has big plans for the parking lot across the street from baseball venue Chukchansi Park. An item on Thursday’s agenda — and previous comments from Mayor Jerry Dyer — show the city wants to build an affordable housing building and a parking garage on the 5-acre facility.

The lot is just blocks away from the proposed High Speed Rail station, under construction at H and Mariposa streets.

However, the lot — bounded by H, Mono and Kern streets and the railroad tracks — is not owned by the city, nor the baseball team.

Fresno Sports & Events Partners, LLC — an affiliated company of Fresno Sports & Events LLC, which until last year owned the Fresno Grizzlies — bought the lot from the city in 2018 for $1.9 million.

When FSE sold the franchise to Diamond Baseball Holdings, the parking lot was not part of the deal. When FSE owned the team the company installed solar panels in the parking lot, which it said would reduce the team’s energy costs by 85%.

The Grizzlies now lease the parking lot and solar panels from its former owner.

The city retained a corner of that lot, where an abandoned warehouse sat. Spending nearly $740,000, the city demolished the warehouse last year. It is unclear if the city plans to build the housing and parking garage on just its land, or if it needs to purchase FSE’s portion.

“We have a vision for the future development, but no agreements or concrete plans at this time,” city spokesperson Sontaya Rose said.

Chukchansi Park, and the parking lot that the city has plans for. (GV Wire Composite/David Rodriguez)

City Has First Right to Buy

The 2018 deal gave the city the first right to re-purchase the parking for “fair market value.” Once FSE makes known its intention to sell, the city would have 30 days to exercise its option.

On Thursday, the city council will discuss implementing a “design-build qualifications method” for the H Street housing-parking structure project.

Documents in the agenda say funds will come from $50 million pledged from the state budget for downtown improvements. The state initially budgeted $250 million for downtown improvements, but for the second year in a row is holding back $200 million because of economic uncertainty.

“This action simply provides staff with the option to go this route, should we decide to. Given the uncertainty around the timing of the state funds, the City is working to be prepared for various scenarios,” Rose said.

After this story published, the Grizzlies sent a statement supporting the city’s plans.

“The Grizzlies fully support the City’s efforts to revitalize Downtown Fresno and recognize the critical need for housing. Increasing the downtown population will benefit Chukchansi Park and other businesses and help spur additional development. Alternative parking solutions, such as multi-level parking garages, remain a priority for us to ensure that attendees of Grizzlies games and other events have access to enough safe parking spaces to support the needs of our fans,” team spokesperson Jonathan Bravo said.

Calls to father-son team Ray Baker and Michael Baker — part of the FSE ownership group — were not returned.

The city of Fresno owns a dirt lot (seen beyond the traffic lights) where a warehouse once stood. The city is planning affordable housing and a parking garage, but it may include adjacent land (the trees and area where buses are parked under the solar panels) owned by another group. (GV Wire/David Taub)

City to Sell Former Fire Station as Surplus Land

A city of Fresno-owned property once used as a fire station and offices for the police department may be on the sales block. The city council will consider making a parcel of land at Brix and Swift avenues in west Fresno “surplus property,” allowing the city to sell.

The city bought the land in 1993 to serve as a temporary fire station, which it did until 2007. From 2010 to 2020, the police department used the land to house background investigators. It has been vacant for four years, since May 2020.

The move to sell has the support of City Council President Annalisa Perea, who represents the west Fresno neighborhood.

“I’m supportive of declaring this property as surplus due to the extensive blight concerns neighbors have had with this property over the years. (A) majority of calls are either broken windows or graffiti-related. While it has served its purpose for the Fire and Police Departments, it now has an opportunity to serve this neighborhood in a new way,” Perea told Politics 101.

Politics 101 inspected the site and concluded that it is a dump. The gutter is falling off the side of the building, blocking the “employees only” entrance. Doors are boarded up. Windows are shattered, trash lines the front. A door on the side is open.

If approved Thursday, the property would be disposed of under the state’s Surplus Land Act. The complex law essentially says that developers with plans to convert the land into affordable housing would have first crack to buy the property.

Real estate records show several of the nearby properties are valued around $250,000.

A city-owned property at Brix and Swift avenues used to be a firehouse. It is in disrepair with boarded-up doors and shattered windows (above), and a falling gutter (below). (GV Wire/David Taub)

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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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