A huge, multi-million dollar hub is being planned for Old Town Clovis to better serve the growing community.
The centerpiece will be a $12 million Clovis Regional Library which, at about 30,000 square feet, will dwarf the current 8,600 square foot library.
Alongside it, a $2 million transportation hub will be built, in addition to a $6 million senior activity center, said Clovis city manager Rob Woolley.
“I’m really excited for it to get off the ground for a growing community,” Woolley said. “It’s a rare opportunity that we have that we can build facilities for the future. We have a 100,000 population community right now and we’re looking at 150,000 in the next 30 years.”
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To make way for the new hub, the City of Clovis purchased the Clovis Lumber Yard at the beginning of this year for $2.85 million through money socked away over the last few years for capital facilities, Woolley said. The building was torn down in the last few weeks.
The now-demolished Clovis Lumber Yard, built in the 1920s or 30s, is not to be mistaken for the historic lumber yard at the end of the flume, by where the Clovis rodeo grounds are now, said Dwight Kroll, the city’s director of planning and development services.
Next up will be site prep and environmental work, Woolley said, noting that the transit center will be built first, as it has already been funded through a $2 million grant.
“The transit center will be a collection of facilities that serve the City of Clovis transit system, including transit offices and break rooms for drivers, as well as a hub for transportation that will serve the city’s internal system and where other systems would access Clovis, such as a shuttle to the airport and YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System),” Kroll said.
The city planning department has done some basic planning for the hub and is in conversations with the Fresno County Public Library regarding how the facility fits within the entire site, planning director Knoll said.
“From the planning perspective, it would add to the city center complex we have in downtown Clovis,” city planner Knoll said. “We’re very interested in, I wouldn’t say ‘the revitalization of old town’ because it’s revitalized, but I’d say adding onto the success of the revitalization of Old Town.”
The site is on the north side of 3rd Street, east of the Old Town Trail just east of Clovis Avenue.
“I think having the library, senior and transit centers in the Old Town area and adjacent to the trail is really important,” Knoll said. “Good things are aligning here. I think from a library standpoint, having the (Old Town) trail system there, where the youth can safely walk and bike to the library is really a good thing.”
Voter-approved Measure B money, about $8 to $10 million, will be used to build and furnish the new library, but the project is expected to cost $12 million, , said Rocky Vang, community relations analyst with Fresno County Public Library.
“We will be starting a capital financing campaign to raise the funds to not just build the library, but to furnish it,” he said. “Depending on what we get from Measure B, another $3 to $4 million will need to be raised.”
As for the 30,000 square-foot library’s design — Vang said it will stay true to the community of Clovis.
“We want it to have characteristics that will say ‘hey, this is Clovis,’” he said. “One of the ideas is to bring in the Western rodeo theme into the new library. So we’ll work with engineers and designers to see what we can do there.”
It will bring some modernization to Old Town, however.
“It’s going to be a real nice place,” Vang said. “In the library itself we are looking to have a ‘maker space’ with modern technology including a 3D printer. There will also be dedicated space for children and teens. The current building doesn’t have those designated spaces — there are areas, but they don’t have that privacy that the new library will have.”
While Vang said the library’s interior theme will likely revolve around rodeo and other historical aspects of Clovis, Knoll said the buildings’ exteriors will be reminiscent of historical Old Town.
“We’re very much interested in the authenticity in Old Town,” Knoll said. “We had to basically drop a structure that sat on that site, and we’re looking at an architectural form that would recreate the railroad and warehousing history of Old Town Clovis. It’s going to be a very different library building and senior center that might look like an ag structure, similar to what was removed 20 years ago. It’ll have a different look than what you see in Old Town now, the commercial storefronts.”
“We’re drawing on the packing house legacy of Clovis and will create a little different design district in Old Town. There are multiple things that are going on in Old Town, and we want the new hub to be relevant to history of the land that the building will sit on.”
The new senior activity center will not only expand in square footage — from 12,000 at the old building to 28,000 in the new one — but will also expand in its uses.
“The population that is using it is becoming younger and more active,” city manager Woolley said. “We want to expand the perception of the facility, so that it is more for younger retirees versus just the older population.”
The city is in talks with the San Joaquin College of Law to sell the old senior center building to the college so that it may come closer to becoming accredited.
“If we purchase that building we would transfer our law library into it, and it would have additional space for administrative offices and for study rooms,” said the school’s dean, Janice Pearson. “The building would be much more than double the size of our current law library, and it would give us the size we need for American Bar Association accreditation. There are a lot more things that go along with becoming accredited, but at least the physical space requirement would be satisfied.”
The school’s current law library would be converted into classrooms and faculty offices, Pearson said.
“It gives the students more options,” she said. “It’s not a done deal yet, but we’re working on it.”
Woolley hopes to close the deal within the next couple of months, and use that funding to begin the senior activity center project.
Knoll looks forward to moving on to the public hearing process, when the site design and architectural elements will be formalized.
“We’re hoping to do that by this fall,” he said.
The city manager said he is hopeful that ground will be broken by the early part of next year.
“That might be optimistic, but that’s my goal,” Woolley said. “I’m excited. I want to see this come to fruition,” he said. “We still have funding requirements, but we’re hoping the community will embrace these new facilities and participate in our funding.”