Preserving an Historic Fresno Building

Fresno There's nothing fancy about the Richfield Super Garage.

Originally built as an auto repair shop around 1931, the simple building sits at the corner of Kern Street and Van Ness Avenue. Owners call it the first art deco structure in Fresno.

It was constructed seven years before the majestic Scottish Rite Temple and nearly ten years before the Tower Theater opened its doors.

Christopher Johnson and Bruce Owdom purchased the property and donated the facade to the Fresno Historical Society.

That means the organization now legally and forever has a say in the building's future.

Bruce Owdom: "They can say according to the easement you have responsibility to preserve facade, protect it and not change it. And they enforce it. That's a legal enforceable right they have."

No new tenants are expected anytime soon, because a lot of work is needed on the two story garage.

Johnson: "The roof needs to be completely replaced. It saw its life end a long time ago, and we've got a lot of leaks. The pigeons have been getting in."

Araiza: "The owners of the garage don't know if the building will be lofts, office or retails space. That partly depends on the success of one of their neighbors across the street Hotel Virginia."

The former hotel should be completed in a few months and reopen as office and commercial space. Fresno City Council Member Jerry Duncan is pleased to see progress with both buildings.

Duncan: "I characterize those things as random acts. We're fortunate that they are willing to do it and we need that kind of investment in downtown."

Duncan believes we're far from seeing a large scale redevelopment of Downtown Fresno. But the owners of the Super Garage only hope they will inspire people on how to preserve something important.

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