"$1 lot no one wanted" goes for $50,000

And the City of Fresno’s $5,000 offer for property near Fresno-Yosemite International sells for more than $100,000, RDA board member Doug Vagim reports.

The mysterious ways of Fresno real estate were on full display at last week’s meeting of the Fresno Successor Agency Oversight Board.

For starters, it turns out that a nearly three-acre parcel in Southwest Fresno wasn’t as worthless as Agency officials had assumed.


I recently wrote about the parcel for CVObserver. The 2.73-acre site at 2345 S. Fruit Ave., once owned by the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency, was to be auctioned off last Wednesday (Dec. 6).

The minimum opening bid, per staff recommendation, was $1. Research indicated that the site had been thoroughly contaminated in years past. A protective cap lay atop the land. Government officials in charge of the environment said at one point that the cap should not be harmed in any way.

Such an edict, of course, tended to limit the site’s development prospects.

The parcel is next to Fresno’s Hyde Park, a one-time dump that City Hall for years has tried to turn into a piece of useable neighborhood green space.

Former Fresno County Supervisor Doug Vagim, an Oversight Board member, sent me an email on Thursday summing up the meeting’s highlights.

The parcel, Vagim wrote, “sold for $50,000. Yes, that’s right – Fifty Thousand Dollars. (There were) two bidders and the winner was in the name of ‘What’s Up Electronics.’ It turns out this parcel was not part of the old city dump, but was opened after the city closed the original landfill to allow the disposal of only ‘inert waste’ – i.e. cement, steel, etc., and not the disposal of biodegradable or hazardous waste material. So, those who knew this were not as fearful of this site as was the city staff.”

An 8.14-acre parcel due south of 2345 S. Fruit also was sold. Vagim said there were two bidders (appraised at $122,000). The winner got it for $190,000.

Let’s see: Two long-dormant parcels owned by the public were appraised at a total of $122,000; they were sold to private hands for a total of $240,000; the money goes to City Hall, Fresno County, schools and special districts; the land, we hope, gets developed.

Sounds like the proverbial win-win to me.

Vagim told me about the sale of two other chunks of old RDA land. The first was a 1.19-acre parcel on Shields Avenue near Fresno-Yosemite International Airport. The listed price was $125,250. Vagim said it sold for $101,100 to River Park Properties.

“That’s a bit more than the $5,000 city FAT (Fresno Air Terminal) reps offered last month,” Vagim wrote.

Then there was the 0.24-acre piece of dirt at 731 E. California Avenue, near Edison High School. This one had a minimum bid of $55,500. Vagim said the Fresno Housing Authority bought it for $81,000. He said a second bidder drove up the price.

The 731 California Avenue parcel is of particular interest to me. The site used to be home to a small empty building that once was a walk-up fast food business. The Redevelopment Agency bought the site in February 2011 for $309,292. That’s right – Three Hundred Nine Thousand Two Hundred Ninety-Two Dollars.

RDA officials at the time told me the parcel was pivotal to a large retail project to be built in the area. The retail project has yet to be built. Now that the Housing Authority is involved, perhaps the area is to be turned into public housing.

So far, taxpayers in the last six years have forked over nearly $400,000 for a vacant piece of land about the size of single-family residential lot near Fig Garden Village.

Mysterious things happen when you spend someone else’s money.

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