Written by David Castellon
Just a couple of months after a $15.2 million agreement for the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office to occupy the renovated Rowell Building was scrapped for a second time, the lease deal looks to be on again.
A draft agenda item for the county Board of Supervisors to vote on a new lease agreement is being prepared for its Sept. 25 meeting, reported Jordan Scott, a spokesman for the county.
“This is another proposed lease agreement with River Park Properties [III] on the Rowell Building,” he said.
Nearly a year ago, the Downtown Fresno office building’s owner, Lance Kashian & Co., which operates River Park Properties, signed a 10-year lease-to-own agreement to occupy 73,210 square feet of the building at the northeast corner of Tulare Street and Van Ness Avenue, essentially all of the office space, while the bottom floor would be converted to retail spaces.
But in January, the developer informed the county it would have to break the agreement, reportedly because it couldn’t timely acquire a federal new market tax credit investment for the Rowell Building, a more than century-old building that had been undergoing a top-to-bottom renovation since February of last year.
The federal program connects private investments to rehabilitation projects in low-income and impoverished areas of the country, giving investors tax credit incentives.
The supervisors gave Lance Kashian & Co. months to try to work out the problem, but on July 13 county officials received a letter stating the business hadn’t obtained the needed tax credit, which seemed to end the deal.
While giving Lance Kashian & Co. time, the county reportedly looked at other vacant buildings that might fit the DA’s needs, including the 50,344-square-foot Crocker Building at the northwest corner of L and Fresno streets, which the county owns.
As for what changed to lead to a new lease agreement, that wasn’t clear, as county staff and representatives for Lance Kashian & Co. couldn’t be reached immediately for comment.
Jordan said details of the new draft agreement weren’t immediately available, so it wasn’t clear if the cost, duration or any other significant elements of the original lease might be changing.