Written by Gabriel Dillard
The Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of a lease-to-own plan for the historic Rowell Building in Downtown Fresno.
The Fresno County District Attorneys Office will take residence in 73,210 square feet of the building at 2100 Tulare St. Since 2013 county officials have recognized the need to find a new home for its attorneys and support staff.
Lisa Smittcamp, Fresno County District Attorney, told the board that in the three floors her office occupies in the Del Webb building, there are some instances of two attorneys sharing an office, and three support staffers sharing an office as well.
“That might be a fire hazard,” she said.
She added there are no facilities for people to eat lunch, and that there is one restroom on a floor for 50 women.
Smittcamp said this is especially significant for her gang prosecutors, who currently share office space with law enforcement officers of the Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC) at their respective stations.
Now, they will be located across Fresno Street from the county courthouse, making court appearances more convenient.
“For them to be able to have offices here is a very big deal for them,” Smittcamp said. “They handle some of the most serious crimes in the county.”
The lease terms have the county paying about $15.12 million over the course of 10 years, with an option to either purchase the building outright for $15 million after that period, or to lease for another 10 years.
Jean Rousseau, Fresno County administrative officer, said the county will set aside funding in order to eventually purchase the building, and may possibly have the $15 million available after five years.
“One way or the other, we are going to buy this building in month 114,” Rousseau said.
Back in February, Fresno developer Ed Kashian, who owns the Rowell Building, began renovations to the exterior and interior. Common areas and retail space are planned for the lower floor of the building, which was built in 1912.
Supervisor Buddy Mendes said today’s decision was a long time coming.
“This is something that should’ve happened years ago,” Mendes said.