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Downtown Fresno

Laura Tsutsui / KVPR

Chinatown is one of Fresno's oldest neighborhoods, and it's now facing changes and challenges. Two of the state's highest profile projects, high-speed rail and cap-and-trade, call the neighborhood ground zero. We spoke to business owners old and new to hear what they have to say about all the activity in a story on Valley Edition. The videos below include more thoughts from business owners mentioned in the story, and other voices from Chinatown.

Laura Tsutsui / KVPR

Chinatown is one of Fresno’s oldest neighborhoods. From the city’s earliest days as a stop on the Central Pacific Railroad, to the 21st century, Chinatown has been a diverse community made up of immigrants who, in many cases, weren’t welcomed in other parts of Fresno. Locked in by railroad tracks on the east and Highway 99 to the west, the neighborhood is also the subject of renewed attention this year. Two of the state’s highest profile projects, high-speed rail and cap-and-trade, call it ground zero.

Google Earth - KVPR

UPDATE 12/7/17: The Fresno City Council voted 7-0 to approve the sale of the lot and Inyo and M for the planned hotel development. 

A long-vacant dirt lot next to the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall could soon become a 200 room hotel, under a deal that is scheduled to go before the city council next Thursday. The agreement would involve the city selling the three-quarter acre lot at Inyo and "M" Streets to Metro Hospitality Services for  $644,000.

Ezra Romero

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street. Jordan Gustafson lives in the tallest building in Fresno. It's called the Pacific Southwest (or Security Bank Building) and its front doors exit onto Fulton Street. She's a Clovis native, but she moved to Fresno after living in New York and San Francisco. She loves that she can bike to work at Bitwise Industries.

Ezra

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street.  Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company owner Michael Cruz hopes that more bars and pubs like his will make a home on Fulton Street and bring back the nightlife. He is concerned about the time between now and when the street is fully established. He says people need to be reminded that things are taking place in downtown. 

Joe Moore / KVPR

Thousands gathered this weekend for a festival to mark the reopening of six blocks of Fulton Street that once made up the pedestrian-only Fulton Mall. The multi-million dollar reconstruction project was one of the most controversial in recent local memory, with critics on all sides. Some claim the new street won’t help revitalize the area, at the same time as others say it will cause gentrification, driving away existing businesses that cater to the largely Latino shoppers who never left downtown.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street.  Raul DeAlba and his family own a number of businesses on Fulton Street. He has seen the mall shift and change and is ready for a new chapter.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street.  Jesus Diaz owns Casa Latina Mini Mart. He says he has been waiting for the street to open and is optimistic about his future.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street. Desirae Washington opened Take 3 on Fulton Mall months before construction started. Now, with the street open, she is hoping for new life, and possibly a second business opportunity. 

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street. Local developer Terance Frazier already has money invested in the future of Fulton Street with his Stadium South Project. He says the city needs to encourage more people like him to make sure there is affordable housing. 

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street. Gentrification is a big worry for advocates of the people who currently live and work on Fulton Street. Ashley Warner with Fresno's Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability says Fresno needs to be act now to make sure displacement is kept to a minimum.

Joyce Aiken

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street. Artist Joyce Aiken was one of the artists who helped craft the Fulton Mall's signature look five decades ago. She helped design the mall's iconic mosaic benches in 1964. More recently she was part of a group that sued the city, attempting to stop the Fulton Street project. Now, she is looking toward the future and a new life for her restored work on the new Fulton Street.

For 53 years downtown Fresno's main street was a car-free zone. But after a year and a half of construction, the six-block long Fulton Mall has been removed, and replaced by Fulton Street. Backers hope the project will kick off a wave of investment and revitalization in the area. But critics abound, with some saying it won't work, and others saying it will displace existing businesses and residents, and will set off a wave of gentrification. Others still say despite the new streetscape, nothing really will change.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

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.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council has unanimously approved a new lease agreement with the Fresno Grizzlies baseball team for Chukchansi Park. The move could help clear the way for a new ownership group to take over the team.

 

The new lease would have the owners pay the city $500,000 a year in rent, compared with roughly $750,000 a year in the current agreement. It also includes a provision requiring both the club and the city to set aside $300,000 a year to pay for repairs and maintenance at the 15-year-old stadium, starting in 2020. 

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