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Selland Arena Parking Lot to be New Home for Fresno's Cosmopolitan Tavern

A popular downtown Fresno restaurant is getting a second chance.  The Cosmopolitan Tavern and Italian Grill has been around since the early 1930's, but the High Speed Rail will soon run right through it.

Thursday, Fresno city council members approved selling a piece of the Selland Arena parking lot where the business will relocate and a piece of history will be preserved.

At the Cosmopolitan Tavern in downtown Fresno, there's a combination of good food and long lasting history.

Owner Gary Lanfranco says, "This is where I've come everyday of my life for 46 years."

The tavern opened it's doors in 1933, but soon the landmark on Fresno and G street will have a new home in a 36,000 square foot portion of the Selland arena parking lot.

"I wanted to stay downtown.  I exhausted all my options and couldn't find anything," says Lanfranco.
 
Lanfranco says he would rather stay put, but he's being forced out by high speed rail.  When the city got wind, it offered to sell the piece of land on the corner of Ventura and O street.

Thursday, council members voted to approve the sale bringing a big relief for more than 20 restaurant employees.

Cosmopolitan Tavern Micah Duguay says, "I'm still going to have my job.  I'll still be able to pay my bills.  Everything's going to be great."

The property itself will cost close to $283,000.  Lanfranco plans to build a 4,500 sq. ft. restaurant with 60 parking spaces.

As for the slash in arena parking, city manager Bruce Rudd says they'll make do.

Bruce Rudd says, "We have a relatively new parking garage that has plenty of capacity."

Rudd also says the change won't hurt big events like the circus and Disney on Ice, but  rather give a Fresno mainstay the chance to stick around.

Lanfranco says, "This is a big relief.  This is a step in the right direction."

Owners hope to start construction on the new property as soon as possible, but say it all depends on how quickly the high speed rail provides relocation funding.   

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