Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias confirmed to The Bee that representatives with Sonnenblick Development visited the city earlier this year and made offers to purchase city property and develop other projects in downtown and along Highway 99 in south Fresno.
LeeAnn Eager, president and CEO of the Fresno Economic Development Corporation, also confirmed Sonnenblick’s interest in Fresno.
Arias and Eager said the potential development investment could amount to $300 million and would be one of the single largest investments to diversify Fresno and the Central Valley’s economy in recent history.
“This represents not only an investment of about $300 million but the creation of an industry that has upward mobility, not minimum wage jobs,” Arias said. “It builds on diversifying our economy, where kids in high school can work there and become managers of hotels in the entertainment business. That’s why it’s so huge.”
Several factors make Fresno more appealing to investors, including the future High-Speed Rail station downtown, a dependable workforce, and the city’s sustainable water supply.
“The stars are aligning,” Eager said.
Just the first phase of potential projects would create upwards of 6,000 jobs, she said.
While rumors have swirled that Six Flags may relocate from Vallejo to Fresno, neither Arias nor Eager would confirm the amusement park was involved. The Bee reached out to Six Flags, and this story will be updated if there is a response. Sonnenblick declined to comment.
Bob Sonnenblick has an investment profile of $1.5 billion on the West Coast, and his company has led development on Los Angeles government buildings and luxury resorts alike. Sonnenblick has spoken publicly in the past about his work with Six Flags.
Sonnenblick already made an offer to buy the Selland Arena, creating stiff competition for the Fuego Football Club, which also hopes to buy the arena.
“Taxpayers should know that there’s a lot of good competition from people who want to invest in our city,” Arias said.