A big project to rehab Hotel Fresno is at a standstill tonight. The Finance and Audit Committee is recommending the city not grant a $1.9 million dollar RDA loan. Without the money, investors say the project can't move forward.
The city council has the final say on the loan in two weeks. Developers hope the council sees the project's potential, but it may come down to numbers and fear of past projects gone wrong.
On the outside, Hotel Fresno looks battered and rundown. It's riddled with graffiti and red X's that indicate if there's a fire, the fire department won't go in to save the building.
Pop Laval captured the hotel's former elegance in the last century. Now, investors who bought it several years ago want to replace the ruins with updated apartments and commercial space.
"It's a building definitely worth saving. It's been nominated to be on the national list of historic places. It's an important asset to the community and one that should be kept, and that's what we do," said Hoss MacVaugh, a developer.
MacVaugh admits that without the $1.9 million dollar RDA loan, the project is dead. It's a $16 million dollar project that isn't fully funded yet. Councilman Lee Brand believes it's a disaster waiting to happen.
"You can't take the wrong project that's not going to work and have it be a spectacular failure. We have plenty of examples of that, like the museum," said Brand.
Downtown revitalization leader Craig Scharton says the investors have proven success. Mayflower is one of two projects they've rehabbed. He says residential space downtown is full and in demand.
"From Van Ness Cottages to Bungalow Court to Fulton Village to Iron Bird Lofts to H Street Lofts," said Scharton.
The question of whether that RDA money is still Fresno's to lend out is still not clear. The city council will revisit the loan issue on April 11th.