Written by The Business Journal Staff
A smoke-scarred structure on the Fulton Mall is getting a major makeover.
Contractors have started work on the Procter’s Jewelers building, located on the corner of Fulton and Fresno streets. When renovation is completed in early 2017, the building’s owner promises to polish one of Downtown’s most prominent corners back into a shiny jewel.
“We’re planning on doing an extensive, full-scale remodeling job, both inside and out,” said Brent Weiner, whose family has owned and operated Procter’s Jewelers for more than 70 years.
Weiner has hired local architect Chris Johnson to oversee the rehab of the 10,200-square-foot structure, which has been vacant since a fire roared through it in 2014.
Clovis-based Lanco General Contractor began performing fire damage mitigation and demolition work in early July.
The building’s interior, Weiner said, will be gutted and rebuilt to include two separate, ground floor retail spaces, each with full basements.
The reborn building will also feature 3,500 square feet of newly refurbished second-story office space.
The exterior façade will sport “a San Francisco-like brick loft look,” Weiner said. “We’re really excited and happy to be moving forward.”
Aaron Blair, president and CEO of the Downtown Fresno Partnership, said the Procter’s project is generating a lot of buzz among Downtown businesses, property owners and revitalization supporters.
“When work on the building is done, it’s going to be amazing,” Blair said. “It will be one of Downtown’s coolest corners.”
The Procter’s building actually plays a starring role in Blair’s earliest memories of Fresno. “When I came here in 2014 for my job interview, the building was actually on fire,” he said. “I stepped out of the car and thought, ‘Wow! What have I gotten myself into?’”
After the June 2014 fire, Weiner moved the family’s jewelry store to the old Blosser’s Sports building at 1728 Van Ness Avenue, a 9,300-square-foot red adobe next to Toledo’s Mexican restaurant.
Weiner said the jewelry store would remain in the new location, along with R-G Awards Systems, another family business he operates there. “We just bought the building,” he said.
After the Procter’s building is renovated, Weiner plans to lease out both ground floor retail spots as well as the upstairs’ office space.
“We hope to have tenants in there some time in April or May of next year,” he said. “Just in time for the new Fulton Street reopening.”
Procter’s Jewelers opened on Fulton Street in 1945, founded by Brent’s grandfather Irwin and his business partner, Pete Procter.
Over time, Irwin’s son Ron and grandson Brent entered the family business, operating as many as five other jewelry stores in San Jose and around the Bay Area as well as in Mission Village on Shaw Avenue for 25 years.
Eventually, the Weiner-Procter partnership was dissolved, with the Weiner family getting the Valley businesses and the Procter family the Bay Area stores.
Weiner, who has served as board chair of the Downtown Fresno Partnership, is a longtime supporter of Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s $20 million effort to convert the Fulton Mall back into a two-way street. He calls the intersection of Fulton and Fresno streets “corner No. 1” in Downtown Fresno and adds, “We’re proud to be playing a part in bringing Downtown back to life.”
Architect Johnson has already created an artistic rendering of the property, post-renovation, that is wowing Downtown revitalization fans. Johnson Architecture has been involved in a number of other significant historical restoration efforts in Downtown Fresno, including the T.W. Patterson building, the Tower Theater, Hotel Virginia and Santa Fe Depot.
“We’re taking this in pieces,” Johnson said. “Right now we’re still accessing the degree of fire damage.”
Johnson promised the renovated building would be “walkability-friendly” and offer “a more active corner.”
Giving the Procter building “the right fit-and-finish,” he added, is one of his main goals. “It’s not a big building,” Johnson said. “But it’s a really great corner from the standpoint of visibility.”