Granville's Crichton Place ready to open in downtown Fresno

The Fresno BeeJune 23, 2014 

Crichton Place, at San Joaquin and L streets in Fresno, is Granville's new downtown development. It will have a grand opening July 1.

MARK CROSSE — THE FRESNO BEE Buy Photo

Granville Homes is getting ready to celebrate the opening of a new 28-unit townhome development -- it's seventh revitalization project -- in downtown Fresno.

Crichton Place, two-story townhomes in a blend of earth tone and vibrant downtown colors, rejuvenates the corner of L and San Joaquin streets in the Mural District where a pair of century-old abandoned homes once stood.

"We're proud to be a part of downtown Fresno's cultural transformation," said Darius Assemi, president of Granville Homes.

These townhomes "have more open space, a larger built-in park and are larger units" than previous developments, Assemi said. "Also, the location is very unique. L and San Joaquin is a lot more quiet and like a neighborhood."

A ribbon cutting and tour of the townhomes will be held at 9:30 a.m. July 1.

The community is located on the edge of downtown near the Lowell neighborhood -- unlike most of Granville's developments, which are concentrated along Fulton Avenue near businesses and offices.

Assemi said his company designed Crichton Place with help from the nearby residents to make sure the design fit the neighborhood.

"It's a much more attractive project as a result of neighborhood feedback," Assemi said.

But the road to revitalization wasn't easy. Granville bought the 1.29-acre property from the Fresno Housing Authority and leveled the homes in December 2011.

A group of historic preservationists called the Citizens for the Restoration of L Street questioned the review process that led to the removal of the homes and filed a lawsuit.

The group believed the houses -- the Crichton and Sayer homes -- had historical significance requiring a more in-depth environmental review before demolition permits could be issued.

The Crichton home, on L Street, was named for early Fresno Judge William D. Crichton. The Sayre home, on San Joaquin Street, was named for early community leader Julia A. Sayre and was once the headquarters for Habitat for Humanity.

The lawsuit is still making its way through court, both Assemi and the city spokesman, Mark Standriff, confirmed. There was nothing preventing Granville to go ahead with construction, Standriff said.

Granville started building in January.

The 1,423-square-foot townhomes have three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms and a two-car garage. The development was built with Granville's Eco-Smart technology such as cool roof tile, high-efficiency heating and air conditioning units as well as energy-saving appliances.

The community is gated and has a courtyard with shade structures, garden boxes, barbecues, and pet-friendly areas. The monthly rent ranges from $1,400 to $1,500.

"There are many challenges in developing a project," Assemi said, "but once we're committed, the project gets built and expeditiously."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6495, blee@fresnobee.com or @bonhialee on Twitter.

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