Fulton Mall businesses facing possible eviction

FRESNO, Calif.

The small businesses are operating inside the old Gottschalks building.

It's located on the Fulton Mall near Inyo, and a short walk away from Chukchansi Park.

"This was all existing. We chose to make it look a lot better and put in natural stone, granite and slate."

Ronnie Rizzo spent thousands of dollars in repairs when he moved his Mexican restaurant from Clovis, to downtown Fresno's Gottschalks building three years ago.

Ronnie Rizzo said, "We chose to be here, and revamp it, put a lot of hard work and remodel here."

But, those revitalization efforts could wind up being worthless.

On Thursday, city officials dropped off these notices of pending termination to Rizzo and fourteen of his fellow tenants.

Included is a long list of mandatory repairs, and their estimated cost.

For example, it would take $240 thousand to repair the floor, $200 thousand to fix the elevator, and more than $159 thousand for a new air conditioning unit.

The total for all repairs is more than $4.5 million. "In addition to the health and safety code issues, there are number lease violations."

Bruce Rudd is Fresno's assistant city manager.

Back in 1969, he says, the city financed the Gottschalks expansion.

After the retailer moved out, the city kept their half of the building, but signed a lease over to a company out of Los Angeles, who is supposed to make all the repairs.

Rudd says, while city leaders are focused on revitalizing downtown, they have no choice but to shut their half of the building down.

Bruce Rudd said, "From a legal standpoint, it will probably have to go dark because there are so many safety violations, health and safety violations that we realize that, but we can't turn a blind eye."

Tenants like Mike Huerta, who runs a photography business, say they've complained before.

Mike Huerta said, "We tell them we need to fix this, fix that, and things just don't get done."

Off camera, the building manager told action news they are trying to come up with a solution.

But, people here say, they don't have much hope.

"This is our livelihood, and to take this away from us, I don't know what we're going to do."

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