Downtown Fresno

Downtown Fresno Partnership Facebook page

A year ago this Friday, Fresno leaders picked up fifteen golden sledgehammers and kicked off the project to rip out the 53 year-old Fulton Mall and replace it with a redesigned Fulton Street. It’s an ambitious project that officials hope will help jumpstart business investment on what was once Fresno’s main street, but for decades has been a struggling six-block pedestrian mall. So a year later what’s happened, both on the mall and off?

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition FM89's Jeffrey Hess reports on the first Clovis City Council election in eight years. We also hear from UC Merced Professor Roger Bales about how it may be time to update the way California manages reservoirs. Later we hear from Fresno State President Joseph Castro. We end the program with a discussion about Downtown Fresno with Aaron Blair the President of the Downtown Fresno Partnership.

City of Fresno

A number of affordable housing projects in Fresno, Tulare and Kern Counties are getting a financial boost from the state’s cap-and-trade program. The state’s Strategic Growth Council announced Wednesday that the four developments will receive around $50 million from the program, which aims to reduce residents’ reliance on cars, through supporting "transit-oriented" development. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The news that the City of Fresno is set to receive up to $70 million from the state in the form of cap-and-trade funding is the latest issue in the Fresno mayor’s race.

Mayoral candidates Lee Brand and Henry Perea offered opposing visions of how to spend the money during a debate last night that focused on issue of downtown revitalization.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The State of California is promising to spend an unprecedented amount of new money investing in Fresno. The state is planning tens of millions of dollars from its cap and trade funds.

Governor Jerry Brown is recommending spending $70 million of cap and trade money in Fresno.

The funds come from pollution credits and are set aside to aid the most heavily polluted and poor areas.

The City of Fresno expects to get half of all the climate change money that the state has designated for those communities.

California High-Speed Rail Authority

Work is progressing on the high-speed rail project’s most visible landmark in downtown Fresno, the new Tuolumne Street Bridge. Workers today began lifting the first of 42 massive steel and concrete girders into place.

The beams are 149 feet long and each weighs 83 tons. They will one day carry vehicle traffic from both Highway 99 and downtown Fresno over the Union Pacific and high speed rail tracks. Officials with the California High-Speed Rail Authority say that construction on the bridge is ahead of schedule.

Christopher Rocha - http://www.vintagefresno.com/ - used with permission

UPDATED 2/26:

A long-awaited development project near Chukchansi Park has earned the Fresno City Council’s unanimous approval.

The city authorized more than $1 million dollars in public money to enable developers to construct a mixed use commercial-residental building at the corner of Fulton and Inyo streets next to the park.

Council member Oliver Baines, whose district includes the project, urged support for the deal.

Fresno's Fulton Mall in downtown
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fewer bike racks and trash cans, the elimination of directional signage and fancy lighting are some of the things that city officials say have been cut from the project to tear up and rebuild downtown Fresno's Fulton Mall. 

Administration officials explained to the Fresno City Council Thursday what they had to eliminate in order to reduce the price of the project below a $20 million cap and avoid using general fund dollars

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The City of Fresno appears to have cleared a major legal hurdle in its effort to turn the Fulton Mall back into Fulton Street. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly Mueller ruled in favor of the city in a federal lawsuit brought by Fulton Mall supporters who want want stop the project. Muller also denied the Downtown Fresno Coalition’s request for an injunction on the project, which could clear the way for construction as soon as next month. 

Kerry Klein

It’s Sunday morning in downtown Fresno, and a classroom full of 10-year olds is about to meet an important visitor: a 2-foot-tall, red and white robot.

“Hello, my name is NAO,” says the robot, standing up on a table.

He looks like a mix between a Transformer and a Power Ranger: big head, square shoulders, and what looks like thick gloves and boots. He can wave his arms, walk, dance, and blink his eyes—just like a tiny human.

“I can recognize your face, answer questions, and even play soccer like a pro,” he continues.

City of Fresno

Construction on California’s high-speed rail project is set to give local drivers some headaches. Starting next month work will begin on the demolition of the Tuolumne Street bridge in downtown Fresno.

The bridge, which links Highway 99 with the central business district will eventually be replaced by a new higher bridge that will span both the union pacific and high speed rail tracks, and will accommodate 2-way traffic.

The Fresno City Council has voted to move forward with an ordinance that aims to crack down on vacant blighted properties throughout the city. FM89’s Joe Moore reports backers hope the effort will improve struggling neighborhoods. 

No more boarded up windows. A new five person city “blight team” to assess the problem and daily fines for continued violations. Those are some of the measures of the new anti-blight ordinance that passed its first vote Thursday. 

Faith in Community

In many of Fresno’s older neighborhoods, blighted properties and boarded up homes are a big problem. FM89’s Joe Moore reports a proposed new law aims to crack down on those property owners.

Residents say abandoned, boarded up buildings drive down property values and often attract  illegal activity. That’s why the Fresno City Council is set to vote on a new ordinance tomorrow to crack down on vacant blighted buildings throughout the city.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin:

After years of delays, and ongoing lawsuits, officials with the city of Fresno say they are finally going to turn the Fulton mall back into a street. The question of what to do with the aging pedestrian walking area in the center of downtown Fresno has been a sore spot in the city for years. City and business leaders say all signs point to the project breaking ground as soon as this fall.

A piano player picks out a tune on the piano in the corner of the popular downtown bar Peeve’s.

Joe Moore
Valley Public Radio

Fresno City leaders say construction could start on the project to turn the Fulton Mall into a street as early as this summer. Opponents of the project say they are not giving up the fight.

The city had expected to break ground on the project this month.

City Manager Bruce Rudd says they won’t make that goal, but they will begin work soon.

“We are hoping to have this go out to bid within the next 60-to-90 days. It will probably be on the street for sixty days. And hopefully back before the council in August to award a contract,” Rudd said.

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