Downtown Fresno

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

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.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The historic Hotel Fresno, a landmark on the city's skyline since 1912, could soon be reborn as the latest residential development in the downtown district.

The Fresno City Council is set to vote Thursday on a plan that would allow potential new owners APEC International, LLC to move forward with the $21 million restoration project. Their vision would transform the vacant hotel into a 70 unit apartment building.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

 

www.fusefest.com

Seven years ago Creative Fresno, a Fresno based non-profit, created a festival called Fresno Urban Sound Experience or F.U.S.E. Fest. 

The festival was created with one goal: to capture what the Fresno underground music scene sounds like. And the festival only has a few rules: each band gets 30 minutes to perform, every band has to be local and can only play original music.

By know you've heard that the San Francisco Giants have decided to pack up their bags and move their AAA farm team up Highway 99 to Sacramento. But the Fresno Grizzlies aren't going anywhere. Instead on Thursday they announced a new two-year agreement making them the AAA affiliate of the Houston Astros.

While many loyal Giants and Grizzlies fans greeted the news with dismay or anger, Houston Astros Director of Pro Scouting Kevin Goldstein was more than amused to learn about the city's infamous FAA airport ID code. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This is the second story in a two part series by Ezra David Romero about what some are calling a tech boom in Central California. In this story we talk Fresno, in the first piece we explore Google, drones and Merced

Fresno Fire Department

With two major fires - one at a local recycling facility and another at a downtown jewelry store - the Fresno Fire Department found its resources stretched thin in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

While crews were battling what became a five alarm blaze at the Barrios Recycling on Orange Avenue, another fire caused severe damage at Protcer's Jewelers on the Fulton Mall at Fresno Street.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley has a rich architectural heritage. From gems like the Fresno Water Tower to Bakersfield’s Beale Memorial Clock Tower, to beautiful craftsman bungalows and mid-century masterpieces, those landmarks help give our communities their own unique identity.

And beginning this Saturday the City of Fresno will kick off a week-long celebration its architectural heritage – with a number of events taking place as part of “Historic Preservation Week”.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

One of Fresno's oldest restaurants could soon have a new home, in what is now a parking lot at the Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center.

On Thursday the Fresno City Council is set to vote on a proposal to sell a portion of the city-owned lot at the corner of Ventura and O streets to Gary Lanfranco, owner of the Cosmopolitan Bar & Grill. 

Courtesy Creative Fresno

Back in the mid 1980’s writer and urban planner Charles Landry was the first to describe how creativity and specifically those involved in creative professions could transform a city – something he called the Creative Cities movement.

Mission Housing Development Corporation

When it was first announced nearly seven years ago, the Bastian Court apartment complex was supposed to be an important part of a revitalized downtown Fresno. The city council liked the vision so much that they approved spending over $3 million in low-income housing funds on the project.

But now the land hat was once slated for a five story mixed-use building near the former Fresno Met Museum sits vacant, and could soon have a new owner - the City of Fresno. 

City of Fresno

Downtown Fresno's Chukchansi Park could get some new mixed-use neighbors and a makeover, if a new development plan advanced by city officials moves forward.

According to a copy of the proposal obtained by KVPR,  the City of Fresno and the city's redevelopment successor agency are asking developers to submit plans to purchase publicly owned land near the stadium and build housing and retail developments. The project, which would cover over 5 acres, could also include a portion of land within the city-owned Chukchansi Park along Inyo Street. 

Caltrans

Nearly fifty years after the Fulton Mall opened to national acclaim,  Fresno City Council voted late Thursday night to approve a plan to replace the historic pedestrian zone with a two-way street. The 5-2 vote was the latest step in an effort that backers hope will revitalize downtown Fresno and the city's historic main street. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Is Fresno's Fulton Mall a priceless piece of art, or an impediment to revitalization of the city's historic core? That's the issue facing the Fresno City Council later this month, as the debate to re-open the pedestrian mall to vehicle traffic heats up, thanks to a $16 million federal grant. 

On Valley Public Radio's Valley Edition, we invited guests with two different perspectives to join us and talk about their competing visions for the future of this historic part of the city. They were:

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A diamond in the rough. That’s what Los Angeles developer Shay Maghame sees in the 90-year old former J.C. Penney building on downtown Fresno’s Fulton Mall.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin joined Maghame at a press conference today, announcing plans for apartments and retail in the long vacant building, which overlooks Chukchansi Park.

“We stand ready to make sure this is a good business experience for you,” Swearengin says. “We know we are on the right track and your investment proves it.”

Maghame calls the building “The Diamanti.”

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

John Rupe doesn't have a time machine. But he does have laminated cardboard, glue and thin sheets of copper - just enough to take a trip back in time to a Fresno that hasn't existed for over nearly a century. That year is 1900. 

Rupe has always loved Downtown Fresno. 

"I explored," Rupe said. "I was in Hotel Fresno in the 80's and it was vacant back then... I was in the Sun-Maid Raisin plant before it was demolished and the Republican Newspaper building, which has been demolished too."

Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

In a region of the country known for its agriculture exploits and groundbreaking farming techniques a new sort of innovation is developing.  The Fresno Grizzlies along with Fresno Idea Works held the first ever Mini Maker Faire in Fresno on Sunday. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero has this report.  
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It was a regular day at the ballpark. The crack of the bat, the crowd cheering as a player hits a ball out of the stadium and Parker -- the Fresno Grizzlies mascot – making the audience smile between innings.