The modern design, made up of 14 two- and three-story buildings, in shades of gray and blue scream new, modern, and hip. But nestled in the middle of the development on Broadway, between San Joaquin and Calaveras streets, is the old Levinson Home that depicts older times in the city.
Granville celebrated the project’s grand opening on Wednesday with a short ceremony attended by city and community leaders including Mayor Ashley Swearengin and Council Member Oliver Baines.
“It takes the investment of property owners like Granville and it takes the partnership of the redevelopment agency, to get these units online and make it happen,” Baines said.
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“We’re going to look back in 15 or 20 years when we have a thriving, bustling downtown” and have a good laugh remembering “when people said it would never happen,” he said.
Brio is a 52-unit housing complex consisting of one- to three-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 602 square feet to 2,173 square feet. It is a smoke-free facility. The third-story apartments overlook a vacant lot along Fulton Avenue that is expected to break ground this year for construction of a park. Rents vary from $825 to $1,800.
Two of the units are in the Levinson Home which is one the local register of historic resources. The first-floor two-bedroom apartment is already rented out, said Tiffanie Marshall, Granville’s property asset manager. The second floor has a three-bedroom apartment that is available. The complex’s leasing office and laundry facility is located in the rear of the house.
The 104-year-old Colonial Revival-style home with front porch was originally built on North Van Ness Avenue. It was named after its first resident, Newman J. Levinson, who was president of the Fresno Publishing Company, publishers of the Fresno Herald.
James and Freda Vagim were also owners of the home. James Vagim sold produce out of his pick-up truck and grew his business into the Vagim Packing Company. His wife, Freda, escaped the Armenian genocide. The couple opened the house, when it was on Van Ness, for United Service Organization functions during World War II.
The Levinson Home was relocated to Broadway Street in 1992 as a measure under the Highway 180 extension project. It was donated to the YWCA for use as a transitional center and was the former home of the Marjaree Mason Center.
When Granville came to own the house and the property surrounding it, the historic preservation committee strongly encouraged the company to keep the home, Marshall said.
“It does have some historic value,” she said. “I think it gives a great element to the project, kind of the old and the new. The inside units, which used to house multiple bedrooms, now houses our leasing office and two incredible units. It’s an eclectic mix which is downtown.”