Man breathing new life into historic Downtown Fresno building

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For Sevak Khatchadourian, celebrating downtown Fresno's history and culture can be found in the details of his newest project.

"When I came and visited these buildings, I basically fell in love with them, he said. "The details, the facade of the building, the ornate corners, there is so much detail."

Inspired by architect George Kelham, Khatchadourian has spent the last year perfecting the exterior of Fresno's historic Helm building.

It's located across the intersection from his most recent endeavor, the pacific southwest building that's opening a new floor of lofts and negotiating some leases.

"When we got this building, it was 10 percent occupied, 90 percent vacancies," he said. "Now, it's the other way around"

That's something he hopes to see with the Helm building -- that will also offer retail, loft and office space.

"We have businesses coming in, we just finished all of the windows and now we're going to start doing the interiors," he said. "We're just waiting on permits and so forth."

Three of seven leases on the ground level are signed. The first to open was a cell phone shop that will soon be followed by a cafe and Ethiopian restaurant.

A wine shop may also be moving in. The dining options will come with outdoor seating. It will look similar to the patio area he created outside of the pacific southwest building.

The retail space and curb appeal do more than provide a reason to open a new business downtown -- it entices people to visit.

"With more businesses, you're going to have more shoppers, more people just hanging out," says Downtown Fresno Partnership Program Manager Jazzmine Young.

Young says they're already seeing success in the Brewery District and surrounding areas.

"We're getting a ton of requests now," she said. "It's just keeping up with demand to provide spaces ready for more in."
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