Bethany Clough

Downtown Fresno ‘Old Spaghetti’ building has been empty for years. Now it’s getting new life

FresYes Realty is taking over top floor of ‘Old Spaghetti Factory’ building

FresYes Realty is taking over the top floor of the “Old Spaghetti Factory” building and has plans to bring in 135 real estate agents. Bitwise is renovating the nearly 100-year-old building in downtown Fresno, California.
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FresYes Realty is taking over the top floor of the “Old Spaghetti Factory” building and has plans to bring in 135 real estate agents. Bitwise is renovating the nearly 100-year-old building in downtown Fresno, California.

You’ve probably driven past this building countless times, even if you didn’t know it.

It’s the one with windows that overlook an elevated portion of Highway 41 south – the one you can see right into when you’re driving past – that many people know as the “Old Spaghetti Factory” building.

It’s getting a new renter and pretty soon you’ll be able to get a 65 mph peek inside, while driving by.

FresYes Realty is taking over the top floor of the building, with big plans to bring in 135 or so real estate agents and other workers and boost the presence of blog FresYes.com.

Bitwise Industries, which calls itself the “mothership of technological education, collaboration and innovation” owns the building and is remodeling all three floors.

The building, built in 1925 at 2721 Ventura St., is also known as the historic J. B. Inderrieden Co. Packing Plant building. It used to be a raisin packing house and later had a Khalsa Career College sign on it, but those plans petered out. Many Fresnans know it as the Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant, which later moved north to its current location on Shaw Avenue.

The building is now called Bitwise 41 and it’s going to see some changes real soon.

FresYes is taking over the entire 18,000 square feet of the top floor, said FresYes CEO Jason Farris. A sign that says “FresYes Realty” will go up on one side of the building and another that says “FresYes” on another side.

FresYes primarily sells homes, but the blog at FresYes.com posts about the city’s restaurants, entertainment and events. Farris is a vocal pro-Fresno type and is excited about having thousands of people see the FresYes name as they enter or leave the city.

“When somebody comes from L.A. or someone comes from San Francisco, when they go up and down the freeway … it’s something they don’t expect,” he said. “They see this ‘FresYes’ It’s just going to change Fresno in ways people haven’t thought of before.”

The large windows look out on the highway and downtown. Since they’re about head height if you’re standing inside, a raised platform is in the works that will allow workers to get better views of downtown.

Unlike many offices, it won’t turn the windows into offices that line the perimeter.

“We’ve got all the windows available to see out of,” he said, “so you really good view.”

It will have an open floor plan with a giant shuffleboard, couches, 18 televisions and “I’ve been lobbying for a basketball hoop,” Farris said. He hopes to move in April 1.

The rest of the 46,000-square-foot building will be more traditionally a Bitwise property, with a mix of 10 to 12 tech-related tenants. Bitwise is not revealing who those renters are yet.

The building will have a 50-person conference room, classroom space, and in the building’s basement, a shared lounge and kitchen space.

A small cafe will be open to the public.

It will also have an outdoor patio with seating and space for food trucks and a beer garden. That can also be rented for private special events.

Work on the building is expected to be finished by April and Bitwise is planning a grand opening for the end of summer.

The building gives Bitwise one more presence downtown. It already has the Bitwise South Stadium on Van Ness Avenue with Mabel’s Kitchen and the USBean Brew Station inside, and The Bitwise Hive, the rainbow-colored building at Ventura and Santa Fe streets.

Bitwise has already started working on Bitwise at the State Center Warehouse, the former State Center Warehouse & Cold Storage building at R and Mono streets. It’s a large long brick building with loading docks that could be used by restaurants or retailers.

The other big change is FresYes’s expansion. Its current office with the FresYes Market will stay at Palm and Nees avenues. Some of its 70-plus employees will move downtown.

Farris wants to add about 125 real estate agents to the downtown location by the end of 2019. Agents work as independent contractors and aren’t directly employed by FresYes. About 10 or so support employees will be hired, meaning the business could see about 150 people working on that floor.

“It’s really exhilarating to … get to see the cars driving by at your level,” Farris said of the building. “It’s really exciting. It has an energy and vibe around it that you can’t get at any building in Fresno.”

Bethany Clough covers restaurants and retail for The Fresno Bee. A reporter for 20 years, she now works to answer readers’ questions about business openings, closings and other business news. She has a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and her last name is pronounced Cluff.
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