south stadium demo

A crew begins demolition on a building at the south end of Fulton Street to make way for the South Stadium Project in 2018. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz

published on August 18, 2022 - 10:43 AM
Written by Edward Smith

Developers of the long-planned South Stadium project in Downtown Fresno are again asking for an extension on their housing and commercial project overlooking Chukchansi Park.

The Fresno City Council is scheduled Thursday to hear a request from developers Mehmet Noyan and Terance Frazier of Noyan Frazier Capital, L.P., to extend the dates to close escrow to Dec. 31 to secure construction financing to March 31, 2023. This would mark the latest of several extensions given to the project.

Documents filed with the City of Fresno say the extra time is needed to redesign the ground floor to address flood control issues.

In 2020, developers asked for another extension on the project that was originally slated to include 54 units of housing — 10 of those designated as affordable. The new proposal would increase the units to 99 units, with 20 of those designated affordable. Development costs would increase from $20.64 million to $32.16 million.

Despite the increase in units, neither the height of the four-story building, the total square footage nor the floor-area ratio would change, according to City documents.

Noyan said their architect — Omaha, Nebraska-based DLR Group — specializes in downtown urban space. They were able to create efficiencies to almost double the number of units, Noyan said. The trend has been toward smaller units in downtown areas, and workforce housing fits for the type of tenant they are looking for, said Noyan, including hospital and office workers.

But through creative design, they were also able to use square footage from other areas such as hallways to keep unit size as big as possible.

By increasing units, they were also able to double the number of affordable units, Noyan said.

Additionally, they added a community room and a gym.

Half of the units also overlook Chukchansi park via balconies or living room windows.

“That’s an amenity you can’t replicate anywhere in Central California,” Noyan said.

Noyan did not want to comment on the reasons behind the extension before the City Council meeting.

The ground floor would be 4,500 square feet of retail along Fulton Street.

Noyan and Frazier received the three parcels of land at Inyo and Fulton streets from the City for $1 each, after the City declared it surplus. To accommodate the extension, the City also made an inquiry to California Housing and Community Development Department to extend or waive the Dec. 31 deadline under the Surplus Land Act.

Developers asked for an extension in April 2020. After the extension was approved, the plan was to break ground on the project by the end of 2021. In 2019, the Fresno City Council voted to give the developers $600,000 to help move the project forward.

To grant the extension, a supermajority of at least five votes are required to determine the project is of “good cause and clear and convincing benefits,” according to rules set forth by the state.

Fresno City Councilmember Mike Karbassi said he has a lot of questions about the project, including questions about any involvement between Frazier and T.J. Cox after the former congressman’s indictment Tuesday.

He said he doubts there is any involvement between the two on this project, but Frazier and Cox both sat on the board of the Central Valley Community Sports Foundation, which still operates Granite Park. The indictment from the U.S. Attorney’s office does not name Frazier.

Frazier said the indictment vindicates him and Granite Park from accusations about mismanagement of funds, according to published reports.

Karbassi said developer Mehmet Noyan has an impeccable history with the City of Fresno. He said it’s a great project for the area but he worries that preferential treatment is being given to the developers.

“There is a question of are we giving special treatment because we have held other people to a higher standard and we keep giving extension after extension to this,” Karbassi said.

In February 2021, the Fresno City Council did not vote to extend an agreement between the City and Tutelian Co. for a proposed four-building mixed use development at the corner of Van Ness Avenue and Tuolomne Street. Developer Cliff Tutelian had secured a parking lot before laws surrounding surplus land came into effect. Tutelian had wanted to build 160 housing units, additional commercial space and relocate the CVS Pharmacy. Tutelian was unable to show to City officials he had full funding for the project and an agreement from CVS for the relocation. The Business Journal reported last week that the CVS would close next month.

The history of the South Stadium Project goes back to then-Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s administration. In 2014, multiple proposals had been made on the project, with Noyan Frazier Capital ultimately prevailing. The original plan was to break ground in 2018. In previous interviews, Noyan had said securing state money for affordable housing — something notoriously complicated — had delayed the project.

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