City of Fresno aims to purchase University Medical Center campus, turn it into housing, stores

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The city of Fresno is hoping to take an eyesore and turn it into a beautiful new neighborhood.

Thursday afternoon, the city council agreed to offer to purchase the old University Medical Center campus at Cedar and Kings Canyon from the County of Fresno.

The goal would be to convert the property into housing, with shops and green spaces.

"It's been an eyesore for a long time in the community, a determent to the community since it's been abandoned and vacant, and we think we have the ability and the capacity to do something with it," said Fresno City Council Vice President Nelson Esparza. The property is in his district.

Esparza said the city of Fresno has a vision for the old UMC campus.

"There is an appetite, I can tell you, for something to happen there, something positive, since it has been a vacant property for so long," Esparza said.

Thursday, the city council voted 6-0 in favor of offering the County of Fresno $4.25 million to purchase the 30-acre property.

Council President Luis Chavez recused himself from the vote due to a conflict of interest

If the city's offer is accepted, all existing structures would be demolished.

The city hopes to use the land for mixed-income housing, with retail stores, and green spaces.

"This action today is just an example of how serious this council is about generating new housing, during this housing crisis," said Councilmember Miguel Arias.

The offer is welcome news for Penny Raven, who has lived on Huntington Boulevard for 49 years and near the abandoned building for more than a decade.

"I've been hopeful something good can go there because it's a great corner, has easy access for a lot of people and so I think it would be really good to have it developed," said Raven.

City officials estimate, beyond the sale price, it will cost the city around $38 million to demolish the building, create the water infrastructure, streets, sidewalks and green space for the property.

Regardless, Esparza called the sale an opportunity they cannot miss.

"Obviously, we'll receive more community and neighborhood input as we proceed, but we're really excited about this first step in acquiring the campus in my district," Esparza said.

The city must submit the offer to the county by November 12th.

If they do, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors will likely consider the offer during closed session at their meeting on November 16th.
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