When I last took pictures of the Droge development in downtown Fresno, it was February, and I was worried about how slow things were progressing. The new residential building was scheduled to replace a century old building that was demolished last year. I was concerned it would be another case of a failed project, leaving behind an empty lot. I also have a special attachment to this project because I have family members who worked for many years in a smaller building which was also demolished. My first experiences downtown as a young kid were at that building, and also parking there to go to events at the Saroyan.
In 2012, the city, via the housing authority, moved forward on the process to tear down the old Droge building and erect a modern four story apartment building. A neighboring building (one which a couple of my family members worked in for many years) was also demolished. This is an interesting building as it’s going up with less parking spaces than is “normal.” And yes, people complained that would cause issues, even though a large garage sits across the street, which is always 99% empty at night.
As an aside: If you’re going to an event at Saroyan or Selland, they charge $8 (or $6?) for parking at the convention center garage. The spiral garage pictured is free after 6pm and all weekends, and is only two blocks away. They do however charge for stadium events (and I’d assume you could park at the convention center garage for free). This is how I know the garage is 99% empty at night.
A few weeks ago, the old Droge building was finally demolished. The building had sat at the corner of Van Ness and Inyo for 91 years, although it spent the last years of its life as an eye-sore. Like many buildings in Fresno, being old did not save it from the wrecking ball because it had been left to decay into such bad condition, it wasn’t worth saving.
Supposedly only held up by those metal poles on the sidewalk (which made the building a local icon), it did take some effort from the bulldozers to bring it down. Nether-less, the facade was plain, and the roof was not salvageable.
Fortunately, this building wasn’t just knocked down to build a parking lot. Instead, a new four story building with affordable housing is planned. I talk a little about the project in this post.
If you’re from Fresno, you know what the Droge building is.
Is that name not ringing any bells?
Here, let me give you a hint:
Ah yes, THAT building.
Earlier this year, the city decided that even though it’s an old building (1922), it’s not worth preserving, as it’s not in the best of conditions.
Now, the city is moving forward with the process of redevelopment, into what they say will be a new 4 story residential development. The development would not preserve any aspect of the building.
The project has expanded to include the building next door, which has been empty for many years, but is in good condition. It is the one story to the left of the Droge.
I said I would attend the “downtown open house” event, and so I did. I didn’t have enough time to hit all 5 locations, but I did visit what I thought would be the two coolest. Sorry Granville, but while I like your work, old tops new when it comes to things like this.
And so, here are my pictures.
We start with the building that is frequently used to highlight Fresno. The Pacific Southwest Building is sort of the tallest in the land (depends if you count the antenna, which I do). It’s quite prominent, and it looks good to boot. Built in 1923, it has defined Fresno for almost 90 years.