Photo by David Castellon

published on July 5, 2019 - 2:09 PM
Written by David Castellon

Nearly 10 months after scrapping a second proposed lease agreement to turn Downtown Fresno’s Rowell Building into the new headquarters for the District Attorney’s Office, a vote on a third proposed lease agreement is scheduled for Tuesday.

If Fresno County Supervisors approve it, the county DA’s office could move into the more than century-old building by March of next year.

County supervisors had struck a lease deal in 2017 for $15.12 million over 10 years, with an option to buy the building after 10 years.

Later on, the Rowell Building’s owner, Lance Kashian & Co. — operating as River Park Properties III — informed county officials they had to break the agreement because they couldn’t acquire in a timely manner a federal new market tax credit investment intended to help pay for a top-to-bottom renovation.

The federal program connects private investments to rehabilitation projects and new construction in low-income, impoverished areas of the country, giving investors tax credit incentives.

In 2018, the county and the building owner negotiated a new lease in which the county would pay more in rent, about $17.06 million, to lease 73,210 square feet of the Rowell Building, at the northeast corner of Tulare Street and Van Ness Avenue — which essentially is all the office space, minus the planned retail space comprising the first floor.

Even though a vote on the lease was included in the Oct. 9, 2018 supervisors’ agenda, the matter was pulled for reasons never made clear to the public, and county officials reported the lease agreement was being negotiated further.

Under the new agreement the supervisors will consider on Tuesday, the county would pay about $17.3 million over the length of the 10-year lease, more than what was listed in the previous two proposed agreements, along with an option to buy the building for $18 million after the lease runs out.

If an agreement is reached, the county would be able to move its divisions from multiple offices to one building.

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