Historic Downtown Fresno building receiving exterior renovations

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When it was built in 1912, the Rowell Building was the tallest in Fresno and the first steel-framed structure - one reason it's still standing and worth saving. (KFSN)

A century-old building in Downtown Fresno is being brought back to life. Major renovations are underway on the Rowell Building.

When it was built in 1912, the Rowell Building was the tallest in Fresno and the first steel-framed structure - one reason it's still standing and worth saving. The renovation is part of the downtown revival now underway.

The interior of the 105-year-old building has been stripped down to the concrete and steel frame. The goal is to create a modern office building on the inside, while keeping the historic appeal outside.

"There are so many great buildings down here and some of them just need to be restored and not replaced, and this one was one of those that just had charm to it and great location, beautiful building, and we thought this was the one we should get in an restore," Tracy Kashian said.

Kashian is with the Lance Kashian company, best known for their newer developments like the River Park Shopping Center in north Fresno. But Kashian says downtown is starting to be where it's at.

"Everything that's happening downtown, we want to be a part of that as well," she said.

Other developers have picked up historic downtown buildings in anticipation of the restoration of Fulton Street. And Craig Scharton of the Downtown Fresno Partnership says the Kashian families involvement is adding to the buzz.

"When the Kashian family bought the Rowell Building you could just see the attention from people we couldn't get attention from before," he said.

The Rowell Building was built by Chester Rowell and his partner Wilber Chandler. Rowell was a physician, businessman, newspaper publisher and former Mayor of Fresno.

He died in 1912 while his building was under construction. His statue is in courthouse park across the street. Rumor has it his ashes are interred in the statues left boot, which points directly at the building that bears his name.

The building's location right across the street from the courthouse makes it a prime contender for the new district attorney's office the county is planning to fund in the coming year. But the company says they are looking at both business and government tenants. The renovation is expected to be completed in June of next year.

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