Written by David Castellon
A new agreement on leasing Downtown Fresno’s Rowell Building as the new headquarters of the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office could involve a lease rate nearly $2 million more than proposed in a previous lease agreement.
The Fresno County Board of Supervisors agenda for this past Tuesday included a vote on whether to lease the more than century-old office building, but the matter was postponed ahead of the meeting, as county officials and the building owners decided they needed more time to work out the details of the agreement.
As such, the matter has been pushed to the Oct. 9 meeting, however the agenda item on the lease vote remained on the written agenda posted online ahead of Tuesday’s board meeting, which included some details about the agreement — at least on how it stood at that point.
While county officials and the building’s owner, Lance Kashian & Co., have been tight-lipped about details of the agreement ironed out so far, the agenda item does reveal some significant information, including that the county is looking to enter a lease-to-buy agreement after 10 years of occupancy, and during that time the county would pay more than $17.06 million to lease 73,210 square feet of the Rowell Building, at the northeast corner of Tulare Street and Van Ness Avenue.
That’s essentially all the office space, leaving the bottom floor to be leased as retail space.
The new lease price is a significant change from the $15.12 million the county supervisors originally agreed to pay in a vote in September of last year, in the first 10-year lease-to-buy agreement.
But in January, Lance Kashian & Co. — operating as River Park Properties III — informed county officials they had to break the agreement because they couldn’t acquire in a timely manner a federal new market tax credit investment for the Rowell Building.
The federal program connects private investments to rehabilitation projects and new construction in low-income and impoverished areas of the country, giving investors tax credit incentives.
The supervisors gave the ownership group time to try to work out the problem, but in July the county was informed the business hadn’t obtained the needed tax credit, which seemed the end of the deal.
But earlier this month, county officials announced the negotiations were back on, though neither side would say what changed.
County officials remain unwilling to talk while the negotiations are ongoing, said Jordan Scott, a county spokesman.
As for the higher lease cost, he said: “Until it’s heard before the board, it could change.”