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KINGSBURG – It’s been almost two and a half years since Kingsburg’s historic Stone Hotel was lost to a fire. After an agreement was unanimously approved by the Kingsburg City Council Feb. 20, the seeds for a new project at the site have been sown.

Efrain Yanez, owner of Reedley’s Yanez Construction, is the new owner and his proposal to build a two-story structure with apartments upstairs and retail space below has officially been approved by a unanimous Council vote.

“I’m very excited to be able to build Stone Plaza,” Yanez said asking for input from the Council on the design. “Like Alex [Henderson] said, this is once for every 100 years. We’re more than happy to go for it.”

On their company’s website, Yanez Construction has built commercial and residential construction projects, solar structures and steel buildings and has experience in restoration and remediation.

City Manager Alex Henderson said the plan is to incorporate not only signs that have reference to the Stone Hotel, but also Swedish design elements and modern facilities to meet ADA compliance needs.

“It’s an in-fill location, adds additional Downtown living space - which adds to our revitalization - and is one of the main entryways into Draper,” Henderson said. “As far as our goals for the Downtown, this is considered one of the catalyst sites by the Community Planning Assistance Team that came in.”

A group of city planners visited Kingsburg in April 2017 and offered a number of suggestions to help revitalize the town. Among their ideas were having more retail shops, updating signs, adding a large draw like a hotel to bring visitors, more households within walking distance of Downtown and a prominent arch or sign announcing the entry to Downtown Draper Street.

Council members were equally excited that the key entry way into Downtown Kingsburg would no longer sit vacant for much longer.

“It’s going to be a great project that will look beautiful in the Downtown area,” Mayor Michelle Roman said. “It’s recognizable already. If you call it something with the word ‘Stone’ it will be recognizable. It’s already branded.”

Historically, the building housed a hotel upstairs, but that upper level had long been vacant. On the first floor, it most recently housed New Life Ministries’ Common Ground, J&L Capital Resources, L.T. Enterprises and White Lily Day Spa salon.

Faulty wiring on the original building’s second floor was the cause the 2016 fire, Henderson said. The property was bought by Yanez and at first he considered building a boutique-style hotel there. That plan didn’t seem feasible as there was not enough space or parking to make it profitable.

Instead, it will be 8,700 square feet of commercial space on the first floor with room for three commercial businesses. The building will include an open-air courtyard, on-site parking and up to 10 apartments with 2-3 bedrooms each upstairs.

“We’re going back and forth with some of the design options,” Henderson said when Councilman Sherman Dix asked about whether the corner of the building will be sit at an angle or have a prominent marquee.

“This is a once in a 100-year-opportunity to redesign an entry corner to our Downtown and we want to make sure it meets expectations and accomplishes everything we’re looking for,” Henderson said.

While the Planning Commission will give input on the final design, the City Council will ultimately approve the building’s design.

“The design has been changing a little bit because he’s been in contact with Mike Koch our building inspector and going through those individual things,” Henderson said in reference to ADA compliance needs.

Some impact fees will be waived if construction starts within six months of a development agreement being reached and the project is completed within 12 months of the start of construction. The City is agreeing to reduce impact fees by 90 percent for the market-rate apartment portion of the project as an incentive to get the building finished sooner than later.

Roman said the unique view of Downtown and proximity to the city’s activities will be a neat perk to whoever lives there.

“I’d like to have one of these [apartments] just to have a great spot to watch everything going by,” she said of Kingsburg’s various festivals and parades.

“We’re excited and looking forward to building it,” Yanez said.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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