Investors hope to reopen the Sunnyside Swap Meet next to its old location, on Olive and Clovis Avenue. The lot has been empty for the past fifteen years. Frank Parisi and his son Bryan have spent the past few months, re-vamping the 11-acre lot in East Central Fresno.
Frank Parisi said,"Actually, this was a dump site. There was homeless people in here, you couldn't even tell it was a parking lot in here. It was actually pretty bad."
Parisi says they invested tens of thousands of dollars on everything from new fences and paint to trees and sprinklers. Once everything was in place, he claims they opened the new swap meet to the public three weekends in a row, assuming they had the proper permits to do so.
"The other swap meets are in the county, and they have a little bit different rules. When you're in the city, you have to abide by their rules more because they're stricter."
Fresno City Councilman Larry Westerlund, said the lot isn't zoned for a swap meet, which is why the Parisi's were forced to shut it down. "They had been told that by the city manager that they couldn't operate, but they went ahead and opened anyway."
The zoning conditions date back to the 1980's. During that time, the old Sunnyside Swap Meet, along with a drive-in theatre were operating in the parcel of land adjacent to the current lot. The lot was designated solely for parking, something the Parisi's would like to see reversed.
"Our idea here is to make a nice neat, clean swap meet that's a hundred percent legal."
In order to make that happen, Westerlund says the council will have to review the site plan, and change the existing zoning regulations. And while it's definitely possible the swap meet could move forward, he still has concerns about how the area is being used. "You know, while swap meets serve their purpose, they're not a big revenue generator or job employer."
The reason why the Parisi's didn't try and open a swap meet in the lot next door where it's allowed, is because someone else owns that property.
The council is scheduled to vote on the issue during Thursday's meeting. If they approve it, the swap meet could open by the first weekend of February.