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A pair of Fulton Street buildings dating to the 1940s and ’50s are falling under the steel teeth of an excavator to make way for a four-story building that will eventually provide more than 50 apartments as well as ground-floor commercial space.

A demolition crew began work Thursday taking down the side-by-side buildings at 835 and 829 Fulton St., north of Inyo Street. The site, along with an adjoining parking lot, is being cleared for the first phase of the South Stadium redevelopment project in the downtown neighborhood near Chukchansi Park. Developers Mehmet Noyan and Terance Frazier hope to begin construction on the mixed-use building by late summer or early fall and be ready for occupancy by November 2019.

The $18 million construction project will include 27 one-bedroom apartments and 27 two-bedroom units. More than half of the apartments will have a view across an alley into the baseball stadium. Most of the apartments will be rented out at market rates, with rents expected to range from $1,000 to $1,800 per month, Frazier said Thursday, but about a dozen of the units will be rented as affordable housing.

Noyan and Frazier are working on plans for future phases that include other nearby properties, “but our focus now is on Phase 1,” Noyan said. “We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.”

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Plans for the project have been in the works since about 2013, Noyan said, but it was the opening of Fulton Street – after more than 50 years as a pedestrian-only outdoor mall – that was critical to the effort. “Without it I probably wouldn’t be standing here today,” Noyan said. “It was so important, not only to us as developers, but lenders would look at it the same way. I doubt we would make this kind of investment had the street not been completed.”

Lifelong Fresno resident Ron Bohigian was among bystanders who watched as the excavator began to delicately pluck at the brick wall. His mother and grandmother bought the building at 835 Fulton in the early 1960s and ran Gay Twenty Fashions, a women’s dress store that operated until 2000.

“As I kid I would come in and help out. I would vacuum and fold boxes, and my kids even did that, too,” Bohigian said. “When (my kids) heard this was going to be torn down, they said, ‘Dad, go down there and get a few bricks for us.’ 

“I remember Fulton before it was a mall and I remember when they opened the mall (in 1964),” he added. “I really feel kind of good about what’s going on. This area’s only going to get better.  It all looks good and it’s attractive.”

Tim Sheehan: 559-441-6319, @TimSheehanNews

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