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Unfinished Roseville office building a major headache for developer

Joe Mohamed hopes building will be ?tone-setter? for downtown
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Developer Joe Mohamed is undertaking an arduous task as he completes an unfinished office building in downtown Roseville because he's undoing what he calls previous mistakes.

Mohamed purchased the four-story, 56,000-square-foot building on Oak and S. Grant streets in November for $2.66 million, according to the Placer County Clerk-Recorder's Office. The building was formerly owned by bankrupt Kobra Properties and Vernon Street Associates LLC.

Mohamed's early impression of the building across from City Hall didn't prepare him for what was to come - incorrectly affixed tiles on the exterior and leaking windows, to list just two of his headaches.

"Our biggest problem has been the tile on the outside," Mohamed said Friday. "Some of the pieces are falling off. That was a real jolt to us. About 75 percent of the tile was finished and we have to remove all of it."

The 20-pound tiles hadn't been adhered properly, he said. Several different contractors have since begun the process of removing the tiles, only to quit a few days or weeks later.

"That's our time-killer right now," Mohamed said. "(No one) thought it would ever come down to taking all that tile off. The cost is skyrocketing, but it has to be done."

The scaffolding that has surrounded the building for the past several months will stay up until all the tiles are removed.

When Mohamed first saw the property a couple years ago, the building was covered in dry wall with insulation in the walls. The air conditioner duct work was finished. But water leaked into the building, causing a mold problem.

The previous owner removed the dry wall and insulation, remediated the mold issue and put the building back on the market. But the leak remains, with water seeping through almost all the windows.

"We can't even get into the inside until we get the outside waterproof," Mohamed said.

By the end of 2012, he hopes to have the scaffolding down, the outside finished and to start showing the building to potential tenants. The ground level is zoned for retail shops and restaurants, and the upper levels will be offices.

For Mohamed, the project is more than just business. He sees the building - once it's complete - as a "tone-setter" for downtown.

"We bought this to make our family mark on Roseville," said the 84-year-old who moved to Roseville at 2 months old. "We want this to be a destination building, not just another building."

The city has big plans for downtown, including the creation of a Town Square, which is expected to begin construction in early June, improvements to pedestrian bridges and "riverfront" development along Dry Creek. Fire Station No. 1 is also going to be moved from Oak Street to Lincoln Street.

City spokeswoman Megan MacPherson said Mohamed's building is in a "highly visible location" in terms of downtown's revitalization, as the new Town Square project will be right across the street.

"That block will serve as a gateway to the outdoor amphitheater on Dry Creek once the fire station is relocated," MacPherson said. "It's at the heart of where the community will gather for festivals and events throughout the year."

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.