Written by Donald A. Promnitz
One of Fresno’s oldest and most revered historic sights may have a new life as an apartment complex after the city council signed off on bonds to fund the restoration project.
At Fresno City Hall, a unanimous vote was cast on Thursday to allow the California Municipal Finance Authority to issue upwards of $20 million from the sale of bonds. According to Fresno City Controller Mike Lima, the bonds will be packaged in with other projects, with money likely starting to come next year.
Currently under the ownership of APEC International, LLC, the original plans for the restoration included housing with restaurants and retail space on the first floor. The new plan, however, calls for 79 affordable housing units.
Hotel Fresno first opened its doors in 1913 and became a popular destination for visiting vaudeville performers and politicians—including future U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. The hotel began to decline in the 1950s and had a brief life as a home for retirees before closing its doors for the last time in 1983.
Chris Rocha, business development coordinator for the Downtown Fresno Partnership, and manager of the Save Hotel Fresno page on Facebook, praised the funding, saying that it was a victory regardless of how the hotel is being planned for use.
“From a historic, preservation aspect, I’m just happy that it’s not going to sit vacant any longer, and it won’t be broken into and vandalized,” Rocha said. “And so… it’s a big win.”
Apec International also applied to have the Hotel Fresno added to the National Register of Historic Places, with approval coming in May. This gives Apec 20 percent tax credits to further aid the restoration.