At the former Costco on 380 W. Ashlan, a new building has been transitioned to open a Department of Social Services building that will operate for child welfare in Clovis on Thursday June 23rd.
The project was granted to Cook Land Co., the Fresno-based contracting company, and Jerry Cook, Partner of Cook Land and 23 year President & CEO of Grundfos Pumps Corporation was present at the opening to voice his pleasure in the partnership with the County of Fresno.
“What the big deal is here, with the purpose and passion for us as real estate developers, to get to do something that creates an environment that does serve our children. That’s the big story here, it’s not about converting the building. The building is only as good as the program and people that are dedicated to fulfill the mission.”
“Nothing can be more important for us as a developer, with that passion and the ability to do something that will be here for generations and make sure that we got it absolutely right the first time.”
Supervisor of District 5 of Fresno County, Nathan Magsig called Cook the “patriarch” of the project, and while denying this claim, Cook exclaimed that a project of this magnitude “takes a whole team, to make something like this happen,” calling it a “very complicated project.”
Magsig then went on to state that it was about five years ago when he was told that the different divisions of the Department of Social Services were too far spread apart throughout Fresno County. “[At the time] Many people did not know which building to go to.”
Magsig explained that this was the reasoning as to why it was believed they should create a one stop campus that could house all divisions of the Department of Social Services. “This campus, now is one location where we can have thousands of our workers right here and people know that they can come to a safe environment, not only for our employees but individuals can come here safely and get the care and the services that they deserve and need.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Lynne Ashbeck of the City of Clovis was present for the ribbon-cutting and expressed her thoughts on how the new building was beneficial to the community. She thought about the question for a beat.
“I’m thinking about the question, because I think what you’ve heard [today] it’s really about the kids. All the things that were identified, reusing a really big empty space, bringing jobs, people that can shop on their lunch hour…But I think the ability to say to our community broadly, that kids matter in Fresno County, and kids matter in Clovis, is really what this building says.”
Ashbeck mentioned that employees can shop on their lunch hour because of the grocery store that stands less than 500 feet west of the building. She also reiterated Jerry Cook’s words stating that he was “exactly right”.
“Yes he redid it, and yes it’s 140,000 square feet in jobs and parking and break rooms, that’s all right, but if we don’t get our kids better service in this building it won’t matter, I think this county is committed to making social services better. “
Ashbeck finished by sharing her thoughts on the significance of the day. “I think today is really about the kids, certainly our kids who get served here. We want to be a welcoming place for kids.”
Fresno County Director of Social Services Sanja Bugay spoke at the podium to the gathered crowd, and stated “Every decision we’ve made was based on what was best for our kids. And to achieve their wellbeing and safety.”
Bugay extrapolated that whether it be asking themselves to do more, the board to do more, or even the state to do more, it becomes “easy because we are all here for the same reason. To help support our kids.”
Yes the building also stands as the nation’s first instance in which a Costco has been converted into a Class A Office, but what stands more important can be found in the words of Sanja Bugay, or Jerry Cook, “the kids”. The children are the most important aspect of any story, and in any instance of history. Future generations will now have the opportunity to have this building as a refuge in perhaps their most trying of times.
Paul Nerland, County of Fresno Administrative Officer, opened the ribbon cutting with a quote from author Steve Pemberton and his book, A Chance in the World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past & How He Found a Place Called Home.
“Once the attention fades and the crowd stops cheering his name and his accomplishments are little more than fine print in a history book, the only thing that truly survives him is his child. That is his legacy, that is what defines him, all else is a footnote.”