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Bitwise Announces Big Expansion

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR
A rendering of potential renovations

A company with the goal of turning Fresno into the next Silicon Valley is announcing a big expansion. Bitwise, which bills itself as the entrepreneurial future of Fresno, is adding three new buildings to what they are calling a ‘technology campus’ downtown.

The additional three spaces, all within close proximity to each other in downtown Fresno, would take the space Bitwise provides from 50,000 to 300,000 square feet.Bitwise provides from 50,000 to 300,000 square feet.

The goal of the expansion is to remodel the existing but largely empty buildings to accommodate tech companies and startups, commercial and office space, and entertainment and dining options.

It would also include the construction of 28 new residential apartments.

Bitwise CEO Jake Soberal says the idea is to create a critical mass of technology companies and workers in downtown Fresno.

“And that density creates energy. It creates a community. And that creates a downtown. And we want to be very sensitive about how we create that kind of environment but hopefully we are not going slow.” Soberal says.

The buildings include the Hotel Virginia, the former Old Spaghetti Factory building and the old State Center Warehouse. The company estimates the campus expansion could cost around $40 million.

Soberal says they already have a waiting list of tenants waiting to fill the new space and he expects 100% occupancy when the buildings open next year.

Still, Soberol is aware that a major challenge facing downtown Fresno is attracting business and workers.

“If you isolate what has been improved to be competitive with other areas of town and other cities vacancy rate is almost zero. There is a lot of property that is underutilized but it is also unimproved property. So as you see that get converted it gets sucked up really, really fast.” Soberal says.

The expansion would give the company the ability to offer much larger work spaces to mid-and-large- sized companies. The Bitwise building in the Mural district currently offers spaces as small as 100 square feet. The new buildings could offer up to offices as large as 8,000 square feet.

“We want to continue to put the very new beside established companies because we think there is a lot of magic there in the interaction between the two,” Soberal says.

Soberal envisions R Street, home to two of the buildings and the planned apartments, as turning into a hub that mixes work, retail, and leisure. The apartments would be the company’s first foray into mixed use development which is being strongly encouraged in the new city development plan.

Jeffrey Hess is a reporter and Morning Edition news host for Valley Public Radio. Jeffrey was born and raised in a small town in rural southeast Ohio. After graduating from Otterbein University in Columbus, Ohio with a communications degree, Jeffrey embarked on a radio career. After brief stops at stations in Ohio and Texas, and not so brief stops in Florida and Mississippi, Jeffrey and his new wife Shivon are happy to be part Valley Public Radio.