Cosmopolitan Tavern might be moving to Selland parking lot

November 20, 2013 

The Cosmopolitan Tavern & Italian Grill, one of downtown's most popular restaurants, may be moving -- to the Selland Arena parking lot, of all places.

Third-generation owner Gary Lanfranco on Tuesday said he and top City Hall officials have had productive talks on finding a new home for the Cosmopolitan. But, he added, nothing is signed.

The high-speed rail alignment will force the restaurant to move from its current location on the southwest corner of Fresno and G streets in Chinatown.

"I won't leave downtown," Lanfranco said. "This is my core."

Lanfranco gave no details about his talks with Mayor Ashley Swearengin and City Manager Bruce Rudd. He said the mayor and Rudd have been very helpful.

I wasn't able to get a comment from anyone at City Hall.

A historic photo of the Cosmopolitan from 1970 is displayed on the wall of the tavern.

Lanfranco said his family has done business at Fresno and G since the early 20th century. He said business is good and he wants to keep the place open.

"But I'm in a predicament," Lanfranco said.

That predicament is the bullet train, which, should the system get built, would displace a lot of Fresno businesses. Lanfranco needs a new spot with good visibility and plenty of on-site parking.

The marriage of the Selland Arena parking lot and The Cosmo (as it's often called) raises all sorts of intriguing questions and thoughts.

How much of the parking lot is needed? Would the Cosmo pay rent? Is City Hall thinking about incentives?

The Convention Center could certainly use some new action. So, too, could Swearengin's downtown revitalization plans. The opening of Fulton Mall to cars might generate more business for The Cosmo.

Investors in the Fresno Falcons semi-pro ice hockey team and the Fresno Grizzlies Triple A baseball team once hoped to build something called The Legacy Downtown on the Selland Arena parking. The project was to have loft apartments, commercial space and an indoor ice rink.

That was 2007. Nothing got built.

Let's hope for The Cosmo's sake that Selland's parking lot isn't jinxed.

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