On Tuesday morning, construction crews slowly lifted the old Fulton Mall clock tower into the clear Fresno sky and moved the delicate structure to a new home, just a few feet away. Moving the iconic structure, which has stood in downtown since the mall was built in 1964, signals the home stretch of turning the pedestrian mall back into a street.
The city also used the occasion to announce the official grand opening of the completed project is set for October 21st, 2017.
The 6,000-pound tower is being moved to the southwest corner of Fulton and Mariposa so crews can remove the last section of the six block pedestrian mall.
The project is months behind schedule because, as assistant director of Public Works Randall Morrison explains, they uncovered a series of unexpected setbacks beneath the five-decade old mall.
“There have been a lot of unusual things that we have come across, unforeseen. With underground structures. And underground basements from buildings that previously existed,” Morrison says.
Morrison says they also found utilities underground that companies like PG&E and AT&T didn’t even know where still there.
“So, that was a challenging going through redesigns throughout the project,” Morrison says.
Despite the delay, Morrison says the project is on budget.
Once construction is complete, the clock tower, which is made of wood covered with fiberglass, will be refurbished. It is among the many pieces of public art that had to be removed and restored before being added back to the new streetscape. In addition, 16 of the 21 original water features will be recreated on the street.
According to the city, turning the mall back into a street has sparked $100 million in new investment in downtown Fresno.
Though the official opening is set for October, the street will now open in three sections. The northernmost two blocks and southernmost two blocks will be open for traffic in late August.