Housing, retail and entertainment ‘super block’ planned south of Chukchansi Park

Developer Terance Frazier owns this block of warehouses on the east side of H Street near Chukchansi Park in downtown Fresno. He has plans to tear down and renovate the buildings into apartments, restaurants and entertainment.
Developer Terance Frazier owns this block of warehouses on the east side of H Street near Chukchansi Park in downtown Fresno. He has plans to tear down and renovate the buildings into apartments, restaurants and entertainment. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

Fresno developer Terance Frazier wants to create a “super block” of apartments, restaurants, brew pubs and entertainment south of downtown Fresno’s Chukchansi Park.

The former Fresno State and professional baseball player who is now a real estate developer started buying property on H Street three years ago. But he’s quietly watched and planned his move over the last two decades as other big proposals to bring retail, housing and people south of the stadium have come and gone.

The start of California’s high-speed rail project and its planned passenger station just a couple of blocks down the street has sweetened Frazier’s desire to get on the ground first.

“When you go to big cities, this is what they’re doing,” said Frazier, with TFS Investments.

“Your greatest asset (in downtown Fresno) is the baseball facility,” he said. “You have to develop outside your biggest asset.”

Frazier owns the entire block of warehouses on the east side of H Street between Inyo and Mono. He just bought the Pool Tables R Us building on Broadway Street, north of the warehouses, and he is buying two more downtown properties.

Last month, Frazier and investor partner Matt Garza, a pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, outbid others on a paved parking lot on H Street, between Fresno and Mariposa streets, for a mixed-use building project. But the pair lost the lot when the California High-Speed Rail Authority asked the city to exercise a first right of refusal to buy the property and, in turn, resell it to the state rail agency.

When you go to big cities, this is what they’re doing.

Developer Terance Frazier

The developer already has the South Stadium project in the books. He is partnering with Mehmet Noyan to transform the south end of Fulton Street, formerly Fulton Mall, into 51 apartment units atop 10,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. The project is expected to begin once Fulton Street construction is finished in spring or early summer.

“If you’re going to be a master developer, you have to control a lot of (the properties),” Frazier said.

Some businesses open up and then fail because it’s one business in one building on an empty street, he said.

“When you take an entire area and build that, you’ll have synergy. (People) will come before the game and after the game,” he said.

The plan

The H Street plan looks like this: The two buildings closest to Inyo, 752 and 740 H St., are set for demolition because they are unsafe, Frazier said. In their place would be a five-story building with 10,000 square feet of first-floor retail space and 51 apartments above, some of which will be affordable and some available at market rates.

South Stadium “super block” 10,000-square-feet commercial space 51 affordable apartments 20,000-square-feet restaurant, patio, bowling alley 4,500-square-feet manufacturing facility

The northernmost building, 752 H St., was built in about 1893 and is “among the oldest extant buildings in Fresno,” according to a report by Karana Hattersley-Drayton, the city’s historic preservation project manager.

It was originally home to the Fresno Transfer Co., owned and operated by John Zapp, a deliveryman who also founded Zapp’s Park in 1900 at Olive and Blackstone avenues. A 2007 historic survey reports that the ground floor of the building was believed to have housed horses and wagons, and the second floor was likely lodgings for employees.

Hattersley-Drayton said the building “has historical significance as a rare survivor of Fresno’s pre-20th century commercial development” and because of its association with Zapp as a local historic figure.

The building next door, at 740 H St., was built about 1895. The first known occupant was W.J. O’Neill & Co., a manufacturer and seller of agricultural implements, carriages and wagons. By 1900, the O’Neill Co. took over the adjacent Zapp building, but by 1906 the two buildings had separate uses.

In 2008, both buildings were presented to the Fresno City Council to be considered for listing on the Local Register of Historic Resources, Hattersley-Drayton said, but neither was designated for the register at that time. The city’s Historic Preservation Commission determined Monday that neither of the two H Street properties was eligible for the local register.

The remainder of the block consists of nondescript warehouses with roll-up doors. Next to the planned mixed-use building would be a full-service restaurant and an eight-lane bowling alley in about 20,000 square feet of space. The restaurant would have an exhibition kitchen, allowing diners to see into the cooking area, said David Lieberman of Design Development, the Southern California company helping to design the space. The Vernal Group, in Fresno, is also working with Frazier.

I want to be on the block that’s going to be a game changer.

Terance Frazier

The restaurant would have a connecting rear patio with beer garden, bocce courts and seating designed around a large tree. A breezeway would separate the restaurant from the bowling alley in the next section of warehouse space where plans also call for a lounge area and a front patio with heaters and fire pits, Lieberman said.

The team wants to keep as much of the historical architecture of the buildings as it can. Interior walls with windows that were bricked up when new sections of the warehouse were added could be restored with glass. The front facade of the buildings would undergo a redesign.

“I love it,” Lieberman said after a tour of the building two weeks ago to begin creating interior images. “You don’t find these kinds of (buildings) anymore.”

At the end of the row would be a 4,500-square-foot manufacturing facility for Casa de Tamales. The factory would be used to make fresh tamales for grocery stores and to prepare cooked beef, chicken and pork for food service and restaurant customers. Another area of the building would serve as a commissary for local food truck owners who need the use of a commercial kitchen.

The project is in the design stages with construction set between 2017 and 2018.

“This should be your super block,” Frazier said. “I want to be on the block that’s going to be a game changer.”

Staff writer Tim Sheehan contributed to this story.

BoNhia Lee: 559-441-6495, @bonhialee.