Rebirth at Granite Park?

FRESNO, California

The park is really two different stories wrapped in one.

There's activity again on the commercial side of the project, but right next to that is one of the city's worst ever investments and it's not getting better any time soon.

The "R" on this club's sign stands for "Rome", but it could just as easily represent "rebirth."

Club Rome will try to rise from the ashes of Cabo Wabo and The Edge, which both failed in the same space over the last three years.

The new managers are convinced they have the formula for a successful, upscale nightclub -- the type normally seen on the north side of town.

"You might say, 'Why Granite Park?'" said Lewis Everk, the director of entertainment and promotions for Club Rome. "Well, it's ready to go. It's zoned. It's permitted. It's ready to go for a club of this magnitude.

Club Rome is not alone in seeing potential in Granite Park. Yosemite Falls Cafe opened a few months agoand crews are about a month from finishing the Touchstone Climbing Fitness Center. But the city of Fresno's half of the 42-acre complex is covered in weeds.

Mayor Ashley Swearengin's plan to spend about $750,000 to refurbish the fields and let a private company take over from there stalled in city council.

Now, opening day seems very far away.

"Until we have an option that provides some private sector investment, Granite Park will remain closed for an undetermined amount of time," said assistant city manager Bruce Rudd.

Some city council members have suggested cutting the city's losses by selling the property. But Rudd says that's not a good option.

"If we're going to look into selling off green space, and we consider Granite Park green space, there are other park properties we'd also put on the auction block because they would probably generate a higher return on investment than Granite Park," he said.

The city's other big accidental investment isn't doing much better. Only one floor is rented at the Met Museum, and council member Lee Brand told Action News, even if they rented it all out, the city would still be losing money.

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