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The former Fresno County Juvenile Hall building in Fresno closed in 2006 amid news reports exposing deplorable conditions that earned it the nickname “hall of shame.”

published on September 7, 2018 - 7:00 AM
Written by David Castellon

The Fresno Unified School District could be close to working out a deal to buy the former Fresno County Juvenile Hall building.

If it can be worked out by the Sept. 12 school board meeting, board trustees may vote that day on whether to buy the former juvenile hall, along with adjoining land and buildings off East Ventura Avenue between 9th and 10th streets.

The facility, which sits on a series of parcels comprising 12.6 acres, closed in 2006 amid news reports exposing deplorable conditions that earned it the nickname “hall of shame.”

The combination of open land and buildings, were put up for sale by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, and the members accepted last year a $1.51 million bid — slightly more than the asking price — to buy the parcels by Carosella Properties, Inc., a development group out of Bakersfield.

But that deal fell through in February, after county officials declined Carosella’s request to extend the escrow period, said Elliot Kirshanman, an associate with the group.

He said prior to the deal falling through, he had been in discussions with the school district as a possible buyer, and now the county’s Internal Services Department is overseeing negotiations with the school district.

As for what type of school Fresno Unified is looking to build on the site, that hasn’t yet been determined, said Miguel Arias, a school district spokesman.

The district, which currently has 110 school sites, has Felipe Herrera Elementary School under construction in the area of South Peach and East Church avenues in southeast Fresno.

“We know what our needs are. We have needs in high school and middle school, in general,” Arias said.

Finding new school sites normally is a challenge, as it’s hard to find open land or land not highly developed in the Fresno city limits, he said.

The former juvenile hall is bordered on the north by Ventura Boulevard, a busy street lined with small businesses but it is otherwise surrounded by residential neighborhoods.

Much of the property is open land with several buildings on it. Including the former juvenile hall, which was built in the 1950s.

Arias said that during the Sept. 12 meeting, plans are to give the School Board members a closed-door — not for the public — update on the negotiations for the property, and if the district has worked out an offer by that time, the board members may choose to vote then on whether to make or not make the offer.


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