Photo by David Castellon Partners Gubrir Sapraj, right, and Jagdeep Singh, middle, stand in one of three office buildings they are developing off Fig Garden Loop in Fresno. They’re speaking with Art Lancaster, the designer, about plans for constructing the interior of the more than 14,000-square-foot building that Singh already has purchased to relocate his insurance business.
Written by Frank Lopez
After years of running his own construction business, Gubrir Sapraj decided to try his hand at real estate development.
In less than two months, he expects to see how that roll of the dice pays off, as that’s when construction is expected to be finished on The Grove at Fig Garden, a three-building, single story office complex at 4065 W. Figarden Dr., next to the Falls Event Center.
The building was designed to be divided up into minimum 2,000-square foot office spaces, because Sapraj and his partners figured some business operators wanting office space in such a prime location on the Fig Garden Loop might not be able to afford large spaces, so designing offices that could be spacious or more compact with the simple exclusion or addition of walls made sense.
Being flexible is paying off, as the largest of the three buildings, at 14,130 square feet, already has been sold to an insurance company well before construction has been completed.
Granted, that insurance company is owned by Jagdeep Singh, who besides owning Jagdeep Singh Insurance is one of the partners with Sapraj in the office development.
In fact, his current 6,000 square-foot office is just down the street from the office under construction, and he said he wasn’t planning to move when the group began developing the office project, but a trend of long-haul truck insurers going out of business — due to high accident rates in the industry — has garnered him more business that requires more employees and space.
“We grew so quickly that by the time the project was ready, we were in the need for bigger space,” Singh said, adding that with the new, larger office, he’ll be able to increase his staff from 35 people to close to 60.
“We want to hire more people, but we don’t have room for them.”
As for the other two buildings, each with more than 6,500 square feet of space, the ability to offer smaller spaces also seems to be paying off, as a medical clinic is buying half of one, and a trucking company is buying the other half.
As for the third building, Singh said even without much marketing, the partners are getting lots of inquiries from people looking for small to medium-sized spaces, from somebody looking at part of the space for a beauty shop to another interested in making it a truck dispatch center to a Realtor looking for a new office.
Experts say that Fresno County is in substantial need of new office space, with the vacancy rate at just 2 percent. Singh said the flexibility of being able to easily offer a variety of office sizes is helping fuel interest in The Grove at Fig Garden.
This is a building method becoming increasingly common among new commercial offices not built on spec — for specific clients who have leased or bought it before the design and construction has begun — said Art Lancaster, the development’s designer.
Many such offices are being made so non load-bearing walls can be added wherever needed to divide the spaces to various sizes without the more complicated, expensive work involved in moving load-bearing walls, he explained.
Lancaster added that he designed the front of each section as an entire wall of windows in which some could be removed and replaced with glass doors.
What’s also unique about the project are offices in the 2,000- to 3,000-square-foot range usually are available only for rent, not for sale, as they are at The Grove at Fig Garden, Lancaster said.
If any of the owners ever want to downsize and sell all or part of their spaces to a neighbor, the wall between them can easily be taken down, another selling point, he said.
As for the construction, which began about eight months ago, difficulties finding available construction workers to hire — a challenge throughout the Valley — and hitting an unmarked gas line while digging caused some delays.
“Otherwise, everything went smooth,” Sapraj said.