Club One Casino seeks new downtown home in old Gottschalks store

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The former Gottschalks Department store on Fulton Street in downtown Fresno has sat mostly unused and abandoned for more than 30 years, bit could be coming back to life, as the new home of the Club One Casino.

When the store chain went under the city ended up owning half the store and the adjacent spiral parking garage.

Mayor Lee Brand says the structures need millions in repairs, so selling it all for $1.7 million to the owner of the Club One Casino is a good deal for the city.

"He's going to spend about $7 million to bring those two assets up to par, plus another $10+ million for all the tenant improvements."

Brand says the sale will be good for downtown.

"What it does, is puts an anchor at the south end of Fulton Street, that will generate a lot of traffic."

The Tioga Sequoia Brewery is just across the street. Owner Mike Cruz believes the Casino will bring more folks to his business.

"It's going to be good, more people and we'll have a really big neighbor we haven't had in a long time. "

Even Agop Yaacoupian, the owner of Downtown Auto Care, the car repair shop across the street thinks it will help.

"For me, it is good, and I know they will bring more business."

But, the more than five hundred space parking garage would also be owned by the casino. According to the Mayor, the casino will make arrangements to accommodate parking during games at the downtown baseball stadium, but it's not yet clear how much public parking will be allowed.

Mike Cruz says his customers rely on that garage during the brewery's special events.

"For me, that would be my only concern, how they will manage the parking."

But, parking at the current casino is a problem, so casino customer Charlie Herzog supports the move.

"Yeah, extra parking, for sure. Extra parking would be way better. "

Mayor Brand says tenants are already lined up to take over the current Club One Casino space, and it's not yet known if the casino owner will ask the city for permission to add additional gaming at the Gottschalks location.

The Fresno City Council will consider the sale at this weeks meeting.

Mayor Brand is hoping they will approve.

"I think it fits in perfectly with trying to revitalize downtown and specifically that Fulton street which was open a year ago."

So, the old store may not see Christmas shoppers again, but the city is betting on a full house of gamblers.
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