After four years of trying, Fresno County supervisors have sold the old juvenile hall property near downtown.
The $1.5 million sale – the minimum bid the county would take – was approved by supervisors Tuesday in a 5-0 vote. The 12.6-acre property will be sold “as is” to Carosella Properties of Bakersfield and includes the northern half where the old juvenile hall site is located and the southern half where offices house county probation employees.
It comes after supervisors knocked down their asking price earlier this year from $2.1 million to make it attractive to potential bidders. In September, supervisors voted 3-2 to declare the land surplus but needed four votes to sell it.
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The complex of buildings at Tenth Street and Kings Canyon Road would cost more to demolish than the value of the land itself and the county continues spending into the six figures for annual building and property maintenance.
When the board composition changed in January – with Nathan Magsig and Sal Quintero replacing Debbie Poochigian and Henry R. Perea, who opposed the property sale last year – discussion of selling the land was revived.
The new group voted 5-0 in March to sell the land. Tuesday’s sale places the property in escrow. The remaining employees from county probation will leave by the end of the year, said Robert Bash, the county’s director of internal services.
“There is still work to be done, but this is a good step for us,” Bash said.
There is still work to be done, but this is a good step for us.
Robert Bash, Fresno County director of internal services
The county will direct the proceeds to other county projects, such as a new office for the district attorney or the Fresno County Sheriff’s southeast Fresno area substation, said Supervisor Andreas Borgeas.
The northern portions of the property had an estimated land value of $1.38 million while the remainder of the property is worth about $815,000, Bash said.
Ongoing maintenance costs have averaged more than $126,000 a year from the county’s general fund budget.
Supervisors tried to sell the property for $4.3 million, but got no interest, then cut the price in half and still had no takers.
$7,000 Cost, in gold coins, that the county paid in 1897 for the largest chunk of the property.
“This has been a financial albatross that’s finally being unloaded and with money that we can use for the community,” Borgeas said.
Even with the price cut, the county attracted just one bidder. The land is zoned for a multiple family residential project.
“We just don’t know,” said Carosella representative Elliot Kirschenmann of prospects for the property. “You look at investments like this and see if there is some potential out there.”
This has been a financial albatross that’s finally being unloaded and with money that we can use for the community.
Andreas Borgeas, Fresno County supervisor
“The board felt we had to sell it as a unit to get the highest and best use out of the property,” said Brian Pacheco, the board’s chairman. “Even at the reduced value, there was only one bidder.”
The juvenile hall that stands on the site now served the county for 50 years and was dubbed the “Hall of Shame” in a 2001 special report by The Bee that exposed its ills.
Pacheco said he is relieved the county was able to find a bidder and end the old juvenile hall’s long and sordid chapter.
“This is the end of an era for the Hall of Shame,” he said. “The board believes this will put money to a better use for future projects and save ongoing property costs.”