Real Estate Blog

Assemi praised for taking risk in downtown development

Darius Assemi listed nine of his downtown Fresno properties for sale. City leaders praised him for being a pioneer in downtown revitalization.
Darius Assemi listed nine of his downtown Fresno properties for sale. City leaders praised him for being a pioneer in downtown revitalization. ezamora@fresnobee.com

Darius Assemi, head of Granville Homes, spoke briefly Wednesday during the grand opening of The Lede, his 12th and last big project in downtown Fresno’s Mural District.

He’s selling nine of the properties his company has built in and around the district since 2011 including The Lede and two smaller projects still under construction. You can read my story here.

There was one thing he wanted to stress.

“Our commitment to downtown and Fresno is not going away,” Assemi said to the crowd. “Just because these properties are for sale, doesn’t mean our commitment changes.”

Many wonder why Assemi is selling. Some, including the grand opening speakers, seemed surprised. Assemi said its for other opportunities. One thing is for sure – Assemi and his family are the pioneers in downtown revitalization, taking a risk when no one else would.

“They are to be appreciated,” said speaker Marlene Murphey, executive director of the successor agency to the Redevelopment Agency which worked with Assemi to reimagine what the Mural District could be.

“What happened here is unique,” Murphey said. The Assemi’s should be recognized for their leadership and contribution, she said.

Fresno City Manager Bruce Rudd applauded Assemi for working tirelessly to bring an urban park to the heart of the neighborhood. The Cultural Arts District Park is under construction at Calaveras and Fulton streets.

“This isn’t the end, just the beginning of a new era,” Rudd said.

“A year from now, not only will this building be completely filled, but you will see a level of activity between here and Inyo (Street) that hasn’t been seen in the last 40 years.”

In an interview Tuesday, Assemi said the goal was to revitalize downtown. “It’s getting there,” he said. The Assemi family, including cousin Reza Assemi and Pyramid Homes, have built more than 450 housing units in downtown.

Other developers are helping, Assemi said. He named John Ostlund, owner of K-Jewel and KYNO radio stations, who bought and renovated an old building on Fulton Street.

There are others including Cliff Tutelian whose company is renovating the old Parker-Nash building into the new Kepler Neighborhood School. The lesser-known father-daughter team of Frank Wong and Jayni Wong-Placencia bought the Romain House and renovated it into offices.

On the other side of downtown, Mehmet Noyan and Terance Frazier will soon embark on their South Stadium residential and commercial project.

“I’m excited to see a whole host of developers taking a look at downtown Fresno, Assemi said.

BoNhia Lee: 559-441-6495, @bonhialee

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