Old Becomes New Again

April 1, 2008 8:01:15 PM PDT
It used to be the largest wholesale produce market in Fresno. Built in 1903 the vintage Hobbs-Parsons building on Tulare and H Street sold its last head of lettuce in the 1990's. And in just a few weeks it will take on a new life as Fresno's Fire Department Headquarters. Deputy Chief Joel Aranaz said, "We need more space, we wanted to remain downtown as close to City Hall as possible and this building fit our needs."For nearly a century fruits and vegetables were bought and sold here. "I can still see my father right here." Nick Yovino is the city of Fresno's Planning and Development Director. His father hauled truck loads of produce here for 30 years. "Right there was a huge scale so produce was weighed before it was distributed. I remember as a small child my dad would take me to that scale and he would weigh me every time I came in here."

Years later Yovino worked here as a teenager. The building is now on the local register of historic resources so some of it had to be restored during the intensive renovation. The wooden beams exposing the ceiling -- the massive wooden doors to the cold storage rooms. Deputy Chief Aranaz calls it a step up from the fire department's current headquarters on "M" Street which was originally designed as a fire station. "We're also adding our arson investigators and training division. Now we'll all be under one roof."

More efficient and more spacious. The new headquarters will have double the space it used to with 24-thousand square feet. Yovino says his dad would be proud. "My dad would say this is great that we can have a building that's over 100 years old be reused and be given a whole new life."

The renovation cost four and a half million dollars, half of which the city is paying for. Had they demolished the building and started from scratch it would have only cost about three million dollars but the idea was to preserve this beautiful historic building.


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