The Assemi family, a Fresno home builder for four decades, has added to its portfolio: they have purchased the Fig Garden Financial Center, a premier office complex of four-story buildings in northwest Fresno, for about $55 million.
The complex was put on the market by its owners, Fresno mega-developers Richard Gunner and George Andros, who are engaged in litigation in Fresno County Superior Court to break up their longtime partnership.
In March, the Assemi family informed the court that it had offered about $55 million for the steel-framed, glass and travertine stone complex. In an interview this week, Darius Assemi, president of family-operated Granville Homes in Fresno, confirmed the figure. The deal closed on June 1.
“They really built a first-class project,” Assemi said. “We plan to keep it in the tradition of Gunner and Andros, by working closely with our tenants to make improvements, with attention to detail.”
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They really built a first-class project.
Darius Assemi said of developers Richard Gunner and George Andros
The first order of business, Assemi said, is to upgrade the inside of the buildings, the parking area and landscape.
Built in the 1980s, the three buildings feature 320,000 square feet of office space, lobbies made of marble and brass and restrooms with granite countertops and marble floors, said Jeremy Reed, senior vice president of Newmark Grubb Pearson Commercial, who brokered the real estate deal between Assemi and the sellers.
The complex, located just north of the Fig Garden Village shopping center, provides office space to attorneys, certified public accountants, stockbrokers, and banking and insurance professionals, Reed said. Among the big tenants are Morgan Stanley, Union Bank of California and Merrill Lynch.
The complex is currently 89 percent occupied, Reed said.
The complex was put on the market by its owners, Fresno mega-developers Richard Gunner and George Andros, who are engaged in litigation to break up their longtime partnership.
In the interview, Assemi said he was appreciative of Gunner and Andros for building such “an iconic complex” and selling it to the Assemi family. “These guys built an incredible project,” he said, noting that Gunner and Andros put in a lot of hard work to make it happen.
When the complex was proposed, it prompted heavy opposition from residents in the Bullard High area who were concerned about increased traffic and the size of the buildings. The City Council approved the project on a near-unanimous vote in October 1982.
The Assemi family is well known in Fresno.
Established in 1977, Granville Homes has built nearly 6,000 single-family residences in the Fresno metropolitan area, said Assemi, a graduate of Fresno State. During the last decade, Assemi has led a downtown revitalization effort by building multi-family residential units and commercial office space.
The family also has contributed millions of dollars to many nonprofit organizations in Fresno and throughout the world. In 2006, Assemi initiated the annual Granville Home of Hope fundraiser, which has raised over $4.5 million, with a vast majority of the money going to local nonprofits such as Community Food Bank, Hinds Hospice and foundations for Clovis and Sanger schools.
In addition, the family financially supports the American Medical Overseas Relief, which supports a 100-bed hospital in Afghanistan to provide maternal and neonatal care.
The Fresno County Board of Supervisors has recognized the family for its philanthropic work, which includes establishing the California Health Sciences University, a pharmacy school in Clovis. The family plans to expand the Clovis medical campus and open a health-care clinic in Mendota in west Fresno County in a few years, Assemi said.