Demolition crews began work Thursday ripping up part of the Selland Arena parking lot at the corner of Ventura and O streets, clearing out asphalt and concrete to clear a site to relocate the Cosmopolitan Tavern.
The Cosmo, as downtown Fresno denizens know the 80-plus-years-old restaurant and watering hole, will eventually be moving from its longtime digs at the southwest corner of Fresno and G streets because the property is needed for California’s high-speed rail project. While not in the path of the actual tracks, the site will be displaced by an extension of the Fresno Street underpass to carry traffic below the new high-speed train line as well as the existing Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Fresno’s future high-speed train station is planned to be directly across G Street between Fresno and Tulare streets.
Earlier this year, Cosmo owner Gary Lanfranco told The Bee that he has to hand his old property – which has been in his family since 1900 – over to the California High-Speed Rail Authority by December. Through negotiations with the city of Fresno, he reached an agreement in March to buy a portion of the Selland parking lot at the Fresno Convention Center for a reported $282,582 – money from Lanfranco’s sale of his old building to the rail authority in late 2014.
Crews from Bowen Demolition expect to finish up their work at the Selland site on Friday, said Joe Lanfranco, Gary’s son, and construction of the new restaurant could begin with pouring of concrete for a foundation in a couple of weeks. “If everything goes well, we’re hoping construction will be finished in February and we’ll move in by March 1,” Joe Lanfranco said. He added that the family is working with the rail authority in hopes of extending their deadline to be out of the old place to that time.
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“We really can’t close down for any length of time,” Joe Lanfranco added. “Just long enough to move our equipment from here to there.”