Developers plan to build medical offices on the 14.58 acres of land across from Sierra Sky Park

published on July 28, 2022 - 10:27 AM
Written by Edward Smith

The Fresno City Council approved the sale of vacant land in Northwest Fresno to a local doctor with plans to build more medical offices.

The 14.58 acres of undeveloped land sits at the southwest corner of Herndon and Brawley avenues. Fresno cardiologist Lakhjit Sandhu proposed purchasing the property for $1.85 million. An appraisal in 2016 by George Zengel of Zengel & Associates determined the property to be valued at $1.99 million, according to City documents.

The Fresno City Council declared the property as surplus in March 2020. Under California law, developers seeking to build affordable housing get right of first refusal. Failing that, it can then go to bid.

Sandhu’s offer represented the highest yield, a staff report stated. The area does have limitations due to its proximity to the Sierra Sky Park Airport. The report stated that Sandhu wants to build 50,000 square feet of Class A medical office space. Tony Cortopassi of Cushman & Wakefield represented the City of Fresno and Bobby Fena of Colliers International represented Sandhu.

Fresno has a shortage of medical office space, said Fena. Sandhu and his son recently completed a medical office development in Northeast Fresno that quickly filled up — mostly by Community Health System, which purchased three of the four buildings, said Fena.

What Sandhu wants to bring is more office space dedicated to medical usage. A site plan still must be submitted and the escrow process can begin after approval from the city attorney and city manager, said Fena. There may be a rezoning process necessary as well.

The property’s proximity to the Sierra Sky Park — a neighborhood landing strip for private aircraft — greatly limits the options for what can go there.

A source said some of the other proposed uses from potential buyers included another medical office space as well as a self-storage business.

Of the 15-acre purchase, Fena said a third of it is unusable because of the airport.  

Councilmembers approved the deal with two members voting against the project. Fresno City Councilman Mike Karbassi raised concerns that the developer’s son had broken rules on communicating with councilmembers. The land is located in Karbassi’s district.

That issue came into focus with the city’s recreational marijuana licensing process. Karbassi fears the incident could open up the Sandhu development to legal liability.

The purchasing manager with the City of Fresno said that the communications were not a conflict, Karbassi said, adding, however, that the purchasing manager is not an attorney.

Karbassi said Sandhu and his son are good people with good reputations, but that the communications should have disqualified them from the sale.

Fena said the developer had reached out asking about timelines for approval after what had been a drawn-out process.

The developer has already had some initial interest from tenants, said Fena, but being early in the process, nothing can be set in stone.

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