JC Penney Building’s New Owner Reveals Revitalization Plans

Aug 15, 2013 No Comments by

FRESNO – The new owner of the historic JC Penney Building on downtown Fresno’s Fulton Mall addressed media and the general public Thursday morning inside the nearly 90-year old structure, outlining plans for its future.

Shay Maghame is referring to the building as “The Diamanti,” which is Greek for “diamond.”  He says the building’s top three floors will house 60 residential units, along with six penthouses and possibly a sports bar on the rooftop.  Most of the loft units will be rented out at moderate prices, with five units at lower rental costs.  The ground floor and mezzanine area is planned for retail, and could include a public market.  The downstairs basement will be converted into a parking structure for residents of the building, with about 50-60 spaces.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin (left) speaks with the new owner of the historic JC Penney Building on downtown Fresno’s Fulton Mall following a press conference Thursday morning. Shay Maghame plans on converting the building into a mixed-use development, with living and retail space.

Maghame was born in Iran, and moved to Fresno to attend both Fresno City College and Fresno State.  He went on to get a degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Washington.  Maghame is a licensed electrical engineer, contractor, real estate broker, formerly licensed nuclear power plant inspector and an attorney.  He also owns a factory in Asmara, Eritrea that makes construction materials.

Maghame says he knows of many international investors interested in the building.

“We are planning to do this thing with investor money as much as possible, and try to do it sooner rather than later,” Maghame said.

He also says the amount of investment will be tied to employment numbers.

The current interior of the JC Penney Building on downtown Fresno’s Fulton Mall. The project is being called “The Diamanti,” and should be completed in two years.

“The more people we employ, the more investment we can get over here.”

Other investors in recent years have put time and money in other downtown buildings, including the Bank of Italy Building, the Pacific Southwest Building and the Helm Building.  More investment will be put into the Bank of America Building on the Merced Mall, and the Luftenbergs Building will soon have new ownership.  Robert Ellis has purchased the Southern Pacific Train Station, and Austin Ewell is being instrumental in the development of a new CVS Building at Van Ness and Tuolumne in the downtown area.

“The Diamanti” should take about two years to complete.

“We stand ready to make sure that this is a good business experience for you and for all the other downtown investors,” Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin said to Maghame during a press conference Thursday morning.  “We know you’re on the right track, your investment proves it.”

Headlines, Real Estate

About the author

James Olinger is a native of the San Joaquin Valley. He graduated from West Hills College in Coalinga, California in 2000 with an associate's degree in liberal arts. He joined Business Street in 2004 as a staff writer, and became the associate editor in 2007. He maintains that position today, writing for Business Street Online in a variety of topics.
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