New building to be big addition to downtown Porterville

PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN) -- The new Cornerstone building will be a significant addition to downtown Porterville.

It will rise three stories with retail stores on the ground level, the Tulare County Public Defender's Office on the second floor, and the Tulare County District Attorney's office on the third.

The District Attorney's office says 35 to 40 staff members will occupy the third floor initially, and they expect that number to increase.

Porterville Community Development Director Jenni Byers says the project was named Cornerstone for a reason; it has a truly central location.

"The intersection of Olive and Main is the zero point of all addresses," Byers said. "So everything goes north, south, east, west, all addresses start at zero. So that's why it's 14 North Main Street."

Byers says the project dates back to 2006 when city staff started the long process of acquiring the old Porterville hotel, which was historic, but falling short of safety standards.

By 2013, the city was in the final stages of taking over the property, when a fire destroyed the hotel the day after Christmas.

"And then it took the city staff about another year and a half to finally get it acquired," Byers said.

About a year ago, the city sold the property to Cornerstone Main Partners, Limited Partnership. Construction started last summer.

"It was an empty lot for a long time and then sooner or later before you knew it (the newspaper said) they were going to build law offices," Victor Gonzalez said. "I call it the skyscraper of Porterville."

Sam Zenz believes the project will benefit downtown. He owns the Vault Bar and Grill across the street.

"You know, right now, I really like Downtown Porterville," Zenz said. "And I would like the expansion of Downtown Porterville. More and more people are coming in and opening up places, so that's what downtown needs."

Stafford's Chocolates and, more recently, Red Rock Ranch Mercantile, are fresh faces downtown.

The city says Fugazzi's plans to open a new restaurant here soon.

Over the next few years, the city plans road and storm system improvements along Main Street.

"We're just excited to see the continued development and to have really the reinvestment in the community and in the buildings," Byers said.

Former city staffers may be the most eager for Cornerstone's completion this summer.

They laid the groundwork for the project and now get to see it come to fruition.
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