Plans are underway for a major repurposing project to host a micro brewery, tech office space, among other possibilities, for the 1918 building at 736 Fulton Street.
A stretch of Fulton Street in downtown Fresno is getting a lot of love lately.
It’s about to get some more.
A brick building estimated to be 101 years old at 736 Fulton St., across the street from the Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co.’s beer garden, has new owners. They are in the process of renovating the building, with plans to rent space out to businesses.
Local developer Reza Assemi and technology entrepreneur Jamin Brazil bought the building last year. It’s in the heart of the Brewery District, near Inyo Street, next door to the Mecca Billiards supply shop with the giant mural featuring pool balls.
They plan to turn the bottom floor into spaces for microbreweries – or perhaps one big brewery – or other entertainment-oriented businesses. The second floor will be turned into offices and other work spaces.
And its basement? Maybe a speakeasy.
The building was once a car dealership and has housed a long list of businesses over the years, ranging from Sun Stereo warehouse to an underwear and polo shirt manufacturer.
It could be ready for new renters as early as five months from now.
It joins a snowballing surge of redevelopment on that block. Two doors down, Zack’s Brewing Co. opened a year ago in old garage.
Across the street, the building with the “brewery district” mural painted on the side will soon be home to the Modernist cocktail bar. It plans to open this winter. In the same building, 411 Broadway Ales & Spirits plans to open a beer tasting room.
Next door to that building, on the corner of Fulton and Mono streets, the landlords are working to get the building ready for potential tenants.
Tioga-Sequoia is at times attracting thousands of people for events like Fresno Street Eats food truck nights.
Whoever ends up renting the building that’s being renovated will have a prime view of the action in the beer garden, along with nearby Chukchansi Park, and the growing nightlife scene on Fulton.
The owners hope to blend that nightlife with day uses like offices and perhaps a bodega, a small urban grocery store, Brazil said.
He’s positive about the future of downtown.
“We recognize that downtown is going to have an explosion over the coming five years,” he said. “We believe there’s opportunity to enable small businesses to set their footprint down here and succeed.”
For now, the owners are calling the building The Brewery, though they’re open to suggestions for other names. It’s sometimes called the Sun Stereo warehouse (Warehouse Sound in one old Fresno Bee story) and once had 12 stores in the West when it closed in 1981.
It was once called the Charles Foreman Sales building, after a business that sold Briscoe cars, according documents from 1919 and later.
The new owners were also told it once housed Model T cars, and may have been a distribution hub of sorts. Its 18-foot ceilings are supported by massive cement columns.
“It’s like a tank,” Assemi said of the building.
It has a huge freight elevator – big enough to hold a car – and roll-up garage doors in the back.
There’s a basement with numbers painted on the wall (perhaps labels for car part storage?).
Over the years, the building has housed all sorts of businesses: A used car dealership, Bass-Hunter Paint Co., National Lead Co., Mildred Cole Draperies, an underwear and polo shirt factory, a lithograph business, a carpet and furnishings company, and an office furniture company.
In the early 1940s, the Works Progress Administration sewing project rented the second floor, with 85 women sewing clothing that was distributed through social service agencies, according to city documents.
It’s been empty for 20 years or so, Assemi said.
Though it was “a mess,” when they got it, Assemi said, the building is all cleared out now, an empty shell with brick walls.
They’ll keep the brick exterior – which is required because the building is on the Local Register of Historic Resources – and clean up all the architectural details out front.
About 26,000 square feet of space is ready to be turned into something new. The owners envision one large commercial space in front on the north end, perhaps a bodega.
Next to it will be a main entrance to the first floor with a courtyard-like front and a lobby with a grand staircase leading to the second floor and elevator.
Assemi envisions some metal crow sculptures in the main courtyard entrance, mimicking the giant hoards of crows that fly around downtown at dusk. He’s installed a similar style of art at his other projects around town like Broadway Studios and Iron Bird Lofts.
The first floor will have a wide corridor leading down the middle with entrances to many small spaces ranging from 450 to 1,200 square feet. That’s where microbreweries or tap rooms, small kitchens or maker spaces could go, Brazil said.
The second floor is now wide open, with lots of wood beams on the ceiling and skylights letting in plenty of light.
They envision offices on the second floor, a concept that’s similar to WeWork, or Workspace in Fresno’s Pacific Southwest Building. They will have space for individuals or companies that’s ready to move into, with internet, desks, meeting rooms and a cleaning service.
Brazil’s firm will move there too. He’s is the founder of the eight-person HubUX, a research operations software firm, and met Assemi when they were neighbors.
Brazil is also the co-founder and CEO of Decipher, a Fresno-based company that wrote survey software for clients — including eBay, PayPal and Whole Foods — that collects and analyzes information. That company has since been sold to New York-based FocusVision.
The Fulton Street building also has a quiet basement insulated from everything above it.
At least part of it will likely be dedicated a podcasting studio. Brazil also runs the Happy Market Research podcast, with 80,000 subscribers.
And yes, maybe that speakeasy.
Potential renters can contact the owners and see more about the plans at www.736Fulton.com.