Big plans are kicking off with an event center in the south stadium area
The city of Fresno will give nearly $700,000 to a downtown developer who has a history of practices that looked “not ethical,” according to an audit.
The City Council last week approved the $659,298 in low-income housing funds for an apartment building from Noyan Frazier Capital LP, a development company run by Mehmet Noyan and Terance Frazier.
They are looking to erect a $20 million building on Fulton near Kern streets with ground-floor retail and 54 housing units, including 10 that would be designated for low-income residents.
District 1 Councilmember Esmeralda Soria is in a relationship with Frazier so she did not cast a vote related to the project. The only councilmember to not support the new money was District 6’s Garry Bredefeld.
“I’m troubled when you have developers in 2016 say their financing and the business model pencils out, but three years later nothing has happened,” Bredefeld said Friday. “No dirt has been moved and they come back to the council and ask (for more money).”
Frazier also is involved in the nonprofit Central Valley Community Sports Foundation, which runs Granite Park. That long-troubled development and its managers were audited for performance from January 2016 to July 2018.
The audit released in January found personal loans, missing documents, troubling spending and a large amount of unaccounted money.
“When there was an audit, there was numerous outstanding egregious irregularities,” Bredefeld said. “One ought to pause very seriously about whether we want to give that developer three-quarters of a million dollars of more taxpayer money.”
Frazier’s partner, Noyan, said the developer asked for new money because costs have risen because construction didn’t start as early as originally planned. He said Thursday he would not be back to the council to ask for more money.
Frazier said on Friday he has built and remodeled more than 1,000 market-rate and affordable housing units in Fresno in more than two decades.
“This project will also help address the housing crisis in Fresno and Councilmember Bredefeld has a right to oppose it,” he said on Friday. “There is no need to get in a petty back and forth with him when his comments only show he’s trying to be relevant, even when the issue he makes his attacks on has been resolved.”
More than half of the apartments will have a view across an alley into Chukchansi Park. Most of the apartments will be rented at market rates, with rents expected to range from $1,000 to $1,800 per month, according to plans.
The plans for the building go back to 2013 but the developers have said the reintroduction of vehicle traffic to Fulton Street in 2017 was a significant milestone.
In 2016, the developers unveiled a five-phase plan in the area with housing being the first phase. Three of the phases have since been deleted. After housing goes up, developers plan to refurbish space in the Berkeley Building, according to records.
District 3 Councilmember Miguel Arias said affordable housing is expensive to build and the days of building a large swath of project housing are gone. It’s important to build a mix of market rate and affordable housing together.
He said the proposed building is ideal for improving downtown. “In order for us to revitalize downtown we need a housing stock,” he said. “It’s estimated we need 15,000 units.”
Fresno, like the rest of the state, is facing a housing crisis that continues to drive up prices for houses and rentals though they remain cheaper than the Bay Area or Southern California.
Arias said any project should be considered on how good it is for the community, and not based on a developer. He pushed back against Bredefeld’s arguments, saying the councilmembers in the southern districts work much more closely on affordable housing than those in the north, where market-rate projects are more common.
“The project stands on its own merits,” he said. “We base it on the pro forma and the return of investment for the community.”