Written by The Business Journal Staff
Bitwise co-founder and co-CEO Jake Soberal announced Wednesday the local tech industry leader’s ambitious plans to renovate two downtown Fresno buildings.
The largest of these buildings is the 100,000 square-foot State Center Warehouse located at 474 R. Street, where Soberal made the grand announcement.
The old warehouse is set to become the Bitwise State Center Warehouse and will house 50 tech companies of various sizes. Next door will also be the company’s first residential venture—a four-story, 28-unit apartment building. An outdoor green space, rooftop event space, and basement speakeasy are just some of the other amenities planned for the sprawling space.
Bitwise is partnering with real estate developer Will Dyck, builder Paul Quiring and Eric Wilkins on the bold warehouse redevelopment.
“We’re starting to achieve a scale that the world really must take note of,” Soberal said, noting the warehouse is twice the size of Bitwise South Stadium.
While the office and residential space is exciting in and of itself, the area surrounding the building will be bustling with activity and nightlife that all Fresno area residents can enjoy.
“R Street will be lined with restaurants and eateries, coffee shops and retailers, and we intend to add a speakeasy to the basement and inside and really help the historic elements [of the building] shine in bringing Bitwise to this place,” Soberal said.
“This project gives us the opportunity, because of its scope and size, to do some things that are really one-of-kind,” Soberal continued. “On the west side of the building, we’ll add three-fourths an acre of green and outdoor recreation space along the promenade and parking lot. On the rooftop above us, we’ll add 10,000 square-feet of office space and an events center and we’ll have 8,000 additional square-feet of patio for congregating for events.”
While the warehouse renovation will take a couple years, Bitwise announced plans for two other downtown spaces that will be fully operational much sooner.
The Bitwise Hashtag, currently located within Bitwise South Stadium, will double in size and be housed in the Hotel Virginia building at 2125 Kern Street. The building is already home to Boese Commercial, Char.Burger and Tree of Life, and the Hashtag will occupy the remaining space.
“Many are familiar with Hashtag as a co-working space that started in the Tower District,” Soberal said. “It doubled in size coming down to Bitwise South Stadium and, in just 12 months time, it will double in size again to 5,000 square-feet at Hotel Virginia…Not only will the space be bigger, more innovative and more comfortable than ever before, but we’ll get to—for the first time ever in Fresno—add a rooftop outdoor co-working space on the top of Hotel Virginia.”
Hashtag at Hotel Virginia is set to open next month.
By the fall of 2018, Bitwise also plans to open Bitwise 41 at 2721 Ventura Street in the Old Spaghetti Factory building right next to Highway 41. This space will house a dozen more tech companies as well as more classrooms for Geekwise Academy. An outdoor amphitheater and two restaurants are also planned for the location.
“Bitwise 41 will be home to about a dozen technology companies, slightly larger in size than you’ve seen at Bitwise South Stadium, and we’ll get to do some really neat things there,” Soberal said. “Not only will we add some flash and sizzle to that historic exterior and those wonderful windows and add the technology companies inside, but we will be building in the side yard two eateries, a restaurant and a bar, and an outdoor seating area and small amphitheater to create a really wonderful destination for downtown Fresno.”
While each project is exciting individually, Soberal said the sum reflects the changing culture in downtown Fresno.
“We’re talking about, in the first five years of Bitwise’s existence, getting to about 300,000 square-feet of technology hub in downtown Fresno,” Soberal said. “More importantly that represents over 200 new technology companies in downtown Fresno and, more importantly still, we’re talking about 2,000 new technology jobs in downtown Fresno and what that signals: the downtown we’ve dreamt of. It is a reality, it’s happening and it’s better than any of us could have imagined.”