Sno-White building is sold; efforts to save sign


For The Madera Tribune

The iconic Sno-White Drive In building has been purchased. However, before the new owner of the building will do anything, he would like to restore the Sno-White neon sign for the community.

 

For the past several years, the iconic Sno-White Drive In building has sat vacant at the corner of Yosemite Avenue and Lake Street.


Now, there is movement to redevelop the area, and maybe tear down the old building.


However, the new owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, wants to save the iconic neon Sno-White sign and hopes someone will step up to help refurbish it.


“This is one of my first purchases on the commercial real estate side,” the new owner said. “I’m in the commercial real estate business so I’m pretty well versed in retail real estate. I just closed last week. I really want to focus on the building and the significance of the Sno-White history.”


The owner is from Southern California, but has ties to the Central Valley. He was married in Fresno so he knows there’s a history with the Sno-White building.


“This is most likely a redevelopment property. I don’t know what it might be because I just bought it,” the owner said.


He knows the building has been vacant since a car ran into the building in 2015, but also knows its has been a fixture in the Madera community for more than 60 years.


“I want to pay homage to the history of the site,” he said. “Since 1950, Sno-White has existed on the property. I know for a lot of the community who visited the site, there will be a lot of memories and nostalgia. I want to respect that. I want to do that by paying homage of the sign.”


To honor the memory of Sno-White, the owner wants to find someone to refurbish and purchase the sign to save it with the proceeds to go to the Madera County Historical Society.


“There’s a really cool vintage neon sign on the top of the building,” he said. “I’m not a vintage sign collector, but if I was, there would be an affinity for something like that. The idea is to let the community know the property ownership has changed hands. This may be one of the first Sno-Whites. There was roughly 200 built in the course of the chain’s history.”


Although the new owner isn’t sure what will be developed at the site, he wants to let the public know that there is a probability that the building will be torn down.


“There’s a good chance the property will be redeveloped,” he said. “In the event the property is demolished to make way for a new vibrant development, we want to pay homage to the sign.


“Any locals that have any interest in this sign, we would love their ideas if they are interested in the sign and what can be done with it. If I have to demolish the building, I would prefer to offer the sign up to the locals. If I was able to sell the sign to someone that valued the sign, had a connection to the property, I would take any of the proceeds and provide a portion of them to the Madera County Historical Society. I have no idea what that might be.”


The owner said to contact Bobby Kahn, executive Director of the Madera County Economic Development Commission for ideas or information about the neon sign.


“There are collectors out there that take pride in restoring these kinds of signs. The sign is original to the building,” the owner said.


The owner also wants to let the community know the property has changed hands and he plans to do something with the property.


“This property sat blighted for a while,” he said. “It is a bit of an eyesore. It’s not good for the community. The previous owners didn’t do anything to the building. They boarded it up and it has been sitting there for many years.


“I want to pay homage to the history and want to bring in something new and vibrant to restore the vitality of the site.”