published on February 29, 2016 - 1:08 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

A 50,000-square-foot building on the Fulton Mall that was once home to the Ruth Atkins clothing store has been sold.
The Center Mall Court building, located at 1212 Fulton, changed hands in a transaction that occurred in late January, according to Thomas Robinson, vice president at Newmark Grubb Pearson’s commercial division. Robinson brokered the sale in cooperation with Robert Ellis of Robert Ellis Leasing & Investments.

According to Fresno County public records, the building’s previous owners, Center Mall Court Investors, sold the property to John S. Foggy.
The sale price was not disclosed.
The four-story building has been leased for nearly a decade by Fresno County’s Department of Social Services, with the Children and Family Services division taking up a majority of the 49,000 square feet currently leased to the county.
A Subway restaurant outlet occupies the remainder of the building, about 1,000 square feet on the ground floor fronting Fresno Street.
Robinson said the property, which many longtime Fresnans still refer to as the old Ruth Atkins clothing store, was converted to an office building a number of years ago.
“The new owner plans to make a number of improvements that will be beneficial to the tenants,” Robinson said, which was likely one of the reasons the county has opted to extend its lease at the property for another four-year term.
In other downtown development news, APEC International, the Los Angeles-based developer planning to renovate and reopen the historic Hotel Fresno, will submit its application next month for a package of tax credits crucial to the project’s financing.
“We won’t find out until the end of June or the beginning of July if we are fortunate enough to receive the tax credits,” said Lefeba Gougis, general counsel at APEC.
Gougis said the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee will review the developer’s proposal. “It’s a competitive process so you can apply more than once,” he said. “If we don’t get it in the upcoming round, that could delay the project for at least six months.”
In July 2015, the California Strategic Growth Council awarded $121.9 million in grants and loans to 28 Golden State housing and transit-friendly infrastructure projects designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Funds for the awards are generated by proceeds from the state’s new cap-and-trade auctions.
Included in those awards was a $4.8 million grant to APEC, which purchased the Hotel Fresno property in 2014 and plans to spend $23 million to rehabilitate the seven-story structure and build 79 residential apartment units.
The grant awards are part of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program, which is being implemented by the Department of Housing and Community Development in coordination with the Strategic Growth Council and California Air Resources Board.
APEC’s redevelopment plan, which won city council approval in late 2014, calls for 39 new residential units that would be leased at the market rate and 40 units that will be rented as affordable housing.
As part of last year’s deal, the city agreed to contribute $1.9 million from its low- and moderate-income housing funds and nearly another $1 million in deferred development fees.
Built in 1912 by renowned architect Edward T. Foulkes, Hotel Fresno closed its doors for good in the early 1980s. In recent years, the abandoned, boarded-up structure has been a magnet for vandals and vagrants.
Gougis said that if APEC is awarded the tax credits this summer, the company could close its construction financing by or before the end of the year and be ready to break ground in early 2017.
“Construction should take 12 to 14 months to complete,” Gougis said. “That would put us on track to finish the project by the second quarter of 2018. But that is all contingent on us getting the tax credits.”
He added that APEC plans to retain ownership of the property and have a third party manage it for the company.

George Lurie  |  Reporter can be reached at:
490-3464 or e-mail

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