Written by David Castellon
The Fresno County Board of Supervisors could vote Tuesday on whether to sell the former Fresno County Juvenile Hall and, in a separate matter, buy a vacant lot for $2.5 million to house a new sheriff’s sub station.
If approved, the county would offer to the Fresno Unified School District the combined 12.58-acres of parcels off East Ventura Avenue between 9th and 10th streets that housed the juvenile hall and related buildings since the 1950s for $1.2 million.
The district intends to build a new school on the site if a deal can be made, though officials haven’t disclosed wither it would be an elementary, middle or high school.
The juvenile hall closed in 2006 amid news reports exposing deplorable conditions that earned it the nickname “hall of shame.”
Since then, some buildings have not been useable due to age and disrepair, while some have been used by other county agencies, including the Probation Department.
At the same time, maintaining the buildings and open land saddled the county with $126,679 in costs in the 2016-17 fiscal year alone, according to a report to the supervisors.
“The County will realize significant, ongoing and one-time cost savings as a result of this sale,” it states.
The combination of open land and buildings were put up for sale, and last year the supervisors accepted a $1.51 million purchase bid – slightly more than the asking price – by a development group out of Bakersfield.
That deal fell through in February, however, after county officials declined a request by the buyers to extend the escrow period.
The school district in March initiated discussions with the county on purchasing the land.
For the county to make an offer to sell the school district the property, a four-fifths vote by the supervisors will be required.
Under the proposed agreement, the parcels would be sold as is, with the county bearing about $5,000 in costs to close out the site, while the school district would have to pay a $100,000 deposit that would be refundable if the deal isn’t completed.
If the supervisors approve the agreement, the Fresno Unified school board members are tentatively scheduled to vote on whether to approve it during their Oct. 17 meeting.
As for the county supervisors, they also are expected to vote Tuesday on whether to purchase a vacant lot at the southwest corner of East Harvey and North Armstrong avenues near Belmont Avenue and Highway 180, with plans to build a Sheriff’s Department substation for the southeastern portion of the county.
A timeline for construction and the estimated cost to build it would be worked out after the purchase, states a report to the supervisors.
On top of the purchase price, the supervisors also would allot $400,000 for the county Public Works & Planning Department’s project management costs, along with $20,000 for “miscellaneous acquisition costs,” it continues.
County officials had said the board on Tuesday would consider a proposed agreement to lease the Rowell Building in downtown Fresno and consolidate the county District Attorney’s Office divisions and staff there, however the matter now is expected to be pushed to a later meeting.