Fresno, Calif., to See Construction of More Office Space

Aug. 26--The developer of a sports-entertainment complex in central Fresno is adding office buildings to create a truly mixed-use project.

Nine structures ranging from 4,500 square feet to 6,000 square feet each are planned for 4.5 acres on the southeast corner of Cedar Avenue and Hampton Way. Totaling almost 50,000 square feet, the buildings are part of The Village at Granite Park, said Mike Sanchez, supervising planner for the city of Fresno.

"Offices benefit patrons of the site, and there is not a lot of new office space in the area," said Milt Barbis, president of Granite Park.

Two of the offices are already sold to a physical therapist and an occupational therapist even before construction has started, Barbis said. A third deal is pending.

About 600,000 people flock each year to Granite Park's softball, baseball and soccer fields, which sit on 44 acres that once was a dairy farm. The next phase, which includes a hotel, retailers, restaurants, a children-oriented theme park and a gymnasium with a climbing rock, is under construction.

Barbis hopes to have the first three office buildings completed by March. City officials will require the developer to repave Hampton and put in a sidewalk and a barrier wall, said Bobby Fena, a Colliers Tingey International agent finding buyers.

The office land was not part of the original Granite Park, but the developers snapped up the opportunity to buy it when it became available.

"It really completes the whole development," Fena said.

He described the area as a "sleeper." The property backs up to Highway 168 and is in a densely populated neighborhood in the center of the city that hasn't had new offices in a long time.

Only about 20,000 square feet of office space is being built in Fresno's midtown, which has a vacancy rate of 3.7%, the lowest percentage in the metropolitan area, according to Grubb & Ellis/Pearson Commercial.

The buildings are for sale because rental rates for new construction would be too high for the neighborhood. But businesses seeking to own their buildings could be drawn to the site -- to be called The Granite Park Professional Center -- because the structures are smaller and less expensive than what is offered along Herndon Avenue, Fena said.

"The location is not Herndon," he said. "But this is a small project, and I think there are nine buyers out there who will like it. So far, we are right."

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