Written by The Business Journal Staff
The building, sandwiched into the same block as The Lede, Granville Urban’s newest downtown residential development, was built in 1926 and is on the local Register of Historic Places.
Assemi expects to finish renovation work by the end of this month and already has a tenant for the 9,280-square-foot building, the Jeffrey Scott Agency, which will be moving from its current location at 670 P St.
Bruce and Wendy Batti, JSA’s owners, can’t wait to get into their new office space. “It will be great for us, as an ad agency, to be in the center of the Cultural Arts District,” said Bruce Batti, an avid supporter of Downtown Fresno since he first went to work at the downtown Gottschalk’s straight out of Fresno State in the late 1970s.
Batti said he expects “the first wave” of moving to take place over Memorial Day weekend. “We’ll be pretty Spartan at first but when the calendar hits June, we plan to be in place,” Batti said.
Thirty JSA employees will work at the new office, which is just a block down Fulton Street from another powerhouse downtown advertising agency, John Ostlund and Chris Pacheco’s One Putt Broadcasting.
Originally built by PG&E as a customer service center and pump house, the two-story Commercial Block concrete structure features a Spanish Revival façade designed by architect Lee S. Duncan.
Over the years, the structure, which at one time was owned by the City of Fresno, has had a number of tenants, according to Assemi, including Theater Three and the Fresno Met.
The historic building’s newly refurbished interior has an open floor plan, original skylights, mahogany doors and huge windows on the second story. There’s also a fully finished basement and ADA-compliant restrooms.
Assemi, 40, is the son of Pyramid Homes custom builder Massoud Assemi and cousin to Granville Homes developer Darius Assemi.
A Bullard High grad with a degree in philosophy from Fresno State, Assemi sees himself as both an artist and developer. He said he’s been dreaming about rehabbing the historic PG&E building, which has been boarded up since 2001 or 2002, for a number of years.
“I love bringing these old buildings back to life,” he said.
Assemi has been active as a developer in Fresno for more than 15 years and has been involved in a number of key downtown projects, including the Iron Bird and Vagabond Lofts, the Pearl Building and Broadway Studios.
Batti praised Assemi’s “vision” in transforming the PG&E building into what he predicts will be among Downtown Fresno’s most unique offices.
“”I’m a big Reza fan,” Batti said.