A picture review of 1612 Fulton

Last week, GV Urban held the grand opening of their newest residential project, 1612 Fulton, on the corner of Fulton and San Joaquin. I’ve been meaning to write about this place for a few months now, but it keeps slipping away…. Basically, when the project was announced, it included one section of street-wall which was to become the biggest turd built downtown in decades. The Fulton St section looks good, but the section on San Joaquin is abysmal.

While I didn’t attend the opening ceremony, I did drop by a week or so before hand to take pictures, so here they are. By the way, to the GV Urban employed gentleman that oh so subtly followed me in his car during my entire visit….creeping people out is not the proper way to get people to sign leases with you.

As the buildings weren’t open yet, I don’t have interior pictures, but you can see some at their facebook page.

1612 Fulton is essentially a clone of Fulton Village a block away, so much so that a local architect has complained that work he did on the village project was reused without permission or payment. I was initially concerned that GV urban was doing the same thing they do in the suburbs, where the drop the same exact model in over and over again.

Fortunately, the slight aesthetic changes made to the exterior were enough so that the project doesn’t look like a clone. Paint goes a long way.

1612 on right, Fulton Village a block away on the left
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The project is directly next to another GV urban building, where they rent out office/artist space.
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One concern I have about the project is the width of the sidewalks. The area is one the city supposedly wants to make walkable, and the company supposedly wants residents to walk to the nearby art galleries and commercial spaces they rent out. Sadly, instead of dedicating more space to sidewalks, they’ve made changes to narrow them. The end result is that it’s difficult to walk side-by side with someone. Not impossible or anything, just narrow so that you bump elbows enough to be awkward – remember, the added trees lessen your horizontal space.

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The use of green space isn’t a problem – it’s great to filter rainwater. However, they should have moved their buildings back to allow a better sidewalk.

It’s also clear the pedestrian experience plays no part in their plans. Even a week before opening, when all the construction was done, short of minor landscaping, the sidewalk remained closed, as it had been for about a year. There is no reason to block off a sidewalk for such a long period of time.

Looking south, with the project on the left, you can see some commercial buildings on the right (by the two trees). GV Urban is having the city destroy those (leased) commercial buildings so they can have themselves a park. I have pictures of that at the end.

Incidentally, you can notice the lack of traffic in the area. All pictures taken on a weekday afternoon. The developer also supports the city plan to destroy the Fulton Mall and allow cars to drive by. As these pictures show, having asphalt doesn’t mean hoards of shoppers will descend on your street. 

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Like their other projects, the building is actually not one, but many buildings separated by small spaces. This allows more windows and more privacy than from a typical apartment block. I believe this pathway was fenced off after I took these images.

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Walkway to interior units, parking. They put up a fence limiting access to residents, as they’ve done in all their other projects.

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Units front the street

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You can notice again the narrow sidewalk. I am a fan of the balconies overhanging the front though.

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GV Urban doesn’t ever want to raise a finger to improve infrastructure. Sadly, these dreadfully ugly streetlights were kept. Worst still, the poor design means the new residents will get bright lights shining directly into their bedrooms, while the street below stays in relative darkness. Fortunately for them, it appears the glass hasn’t been cleaned in decades, so the light shining in shouldn’t be TOO bright.

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Looking south again, hello moon!

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The sidewalk does expand at the corner, where I believe it’s a live/work apartment

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Fortunately they built two curb ramps. Not aligned for the blind, but an improvement.

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As we leave Fulton, and turn the corner….tragedy. Ok, that’s a strong word, but this is NOT something that should ever be built in a downtown area.

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Parking entrance. Driveway. Driveway. Driveway. Alley. Probably the worst street-wall downtown, and it’s brand new.

The entrance to the interior parking

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And driveways. This section of street used to have a dozen mature trees too.

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Earlier I mentioned that the sidewalk should never be closed for such a long period. It sends entire families out into the street. No temporary crosswalks were ever built. Luckily, traffic is non-existent. Note the alley on the immediate left.

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But what’s even worse, is that they made the sidewalk the absolute minimum width legally allowed.

This image shows the existing sidewalk, and then the area they left. The section on the left, in red, is not passable due to tree planting. The area on the right, in yellow, is sloped for car access. That’s clearer in the second picture.

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I guarantee residents will park in “their driveway” and block the meager sidewalk.

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What’s worse is that this didn’t have to happen. The company insisted it was the only way to fit in the amount of units they needed to make the project worthwhile.

False. They could have had the same amount of units, if only they’d used the alley which is right there. Instead, they walled it off. Remember how I said GV Urban doesn’t spend money on infrastructure? Heavens forbid they pave a small section of the alley to use as an entrance…

What they built

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What they could have built, same amount of units and parking, but use of alley. A wider sidewalk, too.

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Instead, here’s the alley

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 And what the inside looks like

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This post is getting too long, click to continue.

The alley is in bad condition. For most projects, the city requires developers to chip in to improve existing infrastructure. Not in this case.

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These access points will never be used of course. probably just for fire safety reasons.

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Looking the opposite way

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Around the next corner, these units have lovely views of nothing

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The inside

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And back to where we started.

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So is the project good for downtown? Yes, it’s great to see more residential, but with each project, GV urban seems to be getting lazier and greedier. Iron Bird was fantastic. Fulton Village was a step down, and now 1612, with the driveway section, was a big mistake. The front is fine, but again, no art like Iron Bird, sidewalks that are too narrow, and poor lighting.

Meanwhile, as a bonus, here are the buildings across the street that will be demolished to give the developer a park. Unlike the retail space at Fulton Village, these actually have tenants.

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Hope you enjoyed the tour.

20 Replies to “A picture review of 1612 Fulton”

  1. Hi from Burbank!

    I have been searching the internet for information on our new city manager Mark Scott and I stumbled on to your site. Scott was the city manager of Fresno.

    We have a blog for Burbank that the residents go to when we want to find out what our city government is doing. http://semichorus.wordpress.com/
    If you want to add anything to the blog about Scott please do so. You can comment anonymously.

    Your pictures are great. This is the stuff they are pushing here in Burbank. High-density mixed use properties. Most of us do not like it, but everyone in the government seems to just love it.

    I will bookmark your site and check back from time to time.

    Anyway good luck to you!

    1. Thanks for the comment. I don't think I ever interacted with Mark Scott and so have no opinion of him or the job he did. I'm more familiar with the engineering/revitalization/planning staff.

    2. Thank you for your response.

      I read some of your other posts and it's interesting how California cities are similar from a planning point of view where the government is involved.

      I think one of the things that causes them to be similar is the grants. Burbank applies for the same grants Fresno does and therefore our local governments push the same stuff. I just hope they never give out grants for a port-a-potty on every corner.

    3. James Sinclair, I stumbled upon this site because I was looking for info on the new LED streetlights in Fresno/Clovis area. You are doing a great job with your blog. Im in the process of reading through the old archives and find these topics VERY interesting. And Anonymous Burbank, my brother lives there. Off of Lima and Olive, everytime I go to Burbank I NEVER see a problem with homeless people and their encampments. The City Gov in Fresno seem to be having a problem with what to do with them and relocate them. Can you shed some light as to why Burbank and or Glendale seem to not have the problem that Fresno has with the homeless? James Sinclair??

    4. Ha, thats quite a tall order…

      Heres one reason (of many). Fresno is the county seat, meaning all the government services are located in downtown Fresno. That obviously attracts those who need to use those services, such as the homeless. Downtown LA sees more homeless than Burbank for that reason.

      Its also why Clovis has so few. But again, thats just one reason… Fresno County also has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. It was close to 20% just two years ago.

  2. Acorns.


    Those lights are not suited at all for modern high powered street lighting. That relatively small street could potentially be re-lamped,an expensive process I know, with cut-off sodium cobra heads at similar intervals to the old lights which would would greatly reduce potential light trespass and light pollution because the light is farther away from the development and is actually pointed towards the ground. Better yet, you could adequately light the street with the aforementioned lights running at only 35,50, or 70 watts depending on how brightly lit you want the street to be. 70 watts may be excessive on a cut-off given the close proximity of the development to the street and the density of fixtures–there are lights on either side of the street this is taking into account an adjacent street, Broadway which has the non-cut off cobra-head lights running at 70 watts each according to the NEMA sticker.


    So 50~35 watts a light may be more appropriate,and you may as well get more light on the street even if you use the 35 watt lights given the bad design of the acorns. I would also recommend a slightly lower pole height, probably around 17~20 feet.

    If the alley entrance ever caught on then I would recommend 35 watt sodium cobra lights affixed to arms attached to the telephone poles as a cheap and simple solution.

    By the way, did you ever get the dark sky page I linked to you?

    1. Yes, the downtown acorns are pretty terrible.

      You mention that lower wattage is appropriate so the street isnt overly lit….but remember, in Fresno you shoudlnt expect all the lights to be on at the same time. If theres 6 lights in a block, it should be designed so 2 of them light the whole thing, because thats all they ever get around to fixing…

    2. Bad news I'm afraid, more acorns. These lights were installed after Cal Trans sent that massive concrete leviathan, also known as Highway 180, through the fields ,so they're pretty recent. If there's any 'bright side,' the trees will probably block the lights in a year or two anyways.


      Unfortunately,allot of the time, lights like those are chosen for how pretty they look during the daytime with little consideration for the people at night beyond a number on paper.

      Tell me about it, Fresno's, and to an extent Clovis's, street lighting systems are in chronically bad shape. I don't know if you can design a system that lights a whole street with just two lights that doesn't compromise uniformity.

      I've seen a lot of growth in Fresno with little consideration to consolidation of existing resources. The street lighting system is an example. There are large gaping holes on Shaw after Blackstone going east which you can see at night. Certain streets have a mix of different model lights placed at almost random distances at ,likely, different times. Not to mention, only a handful ever seem to work.

      The city actually has a streetlight light crew. You can use the city's website to contact them, and they do get around to fixing most of the lights. They don't actually have crew patrolling for burnt out lights, so they probably could use some help. They don't seem to fix cut-off lights, how odd. I reported around 5 lights near me that the city eventually fixed about a month later. I also report lights on Herndon which the city is in the process of fixing. It seems,though, as soon as lights come back on, some just go back off.


    3. Yes, Im aware of the acorns all around Fancher Creek. I assume they were the developers choice.

      Many of the new subdivisions in Clovis have them, theyre so bad. Very badly spaced too, lots of shadow.

    4. There are vision friendly acorns that have their light source tucked up under a shield that makes them less glaring. You can tell the difference between a 'vision friendly' acorn and a glare bomb by the lens. If it has a clear lens and an opaque cap at the top with the light tucked up under it then it's vision friendly, but if it has a frosted or fully opaque lens then it's a glare bomb.

      Even with the fixes with the overall limitations of the design, they'd still be poorly suited to street lighting.

      I do recall there were cities in the mid-west that effectively banned acorns with their shielded light laws which I assume Clovis doesn't have.

      Speaking of light shields. There are retro-fit kits for non-cut off cobra heads that cost substantially less then new fixtures. Last I've read they were a $50 after market add on.


      You can see them at the intersection of Palm and Sierra, along with the un-shielded alternatives. You can also see a whole street lit with them at Brawley and Herndon on Brawley going south from Herndon. I don't know if I could fully vouch for the lights on Brawley because it seems that their shields are less effective at reducing glare.

  3. Yes I do believe that the Acorn lights do bring a certain old school asthetic look that would fit the downtown area or where ever the developer is trying to get a certain image; However Im a big fan of either the cobra cutoffs SVL or the new LED streetlights that are popping up in certain parts of Fresno and Clovis. But yes, on any given night you can see large swaths of streelights that are not working thanks to the meth heads that are trolling our streets stealing the copper wiring from the street lights for money. And the City is almost bankrupt running on a skeleton crew so we citizens have to worry about our public safety with cars whizzing by becuase they cant see us standing at a freaking crosswalk because the streetlights arent working..or even if they ARE working they arent bright enough. It never ceases to amaze me that when I come back from a weekend trip to LA how dark te city streets are in Fresno, thats usually my first complaint when I come back home.

    1. Acorns are obsolescent for high powered street lighting, but that's not to say they couldn't use low intensity bulbs like a 20 watt CFL for example. They could still add a little bit of pizzazz to a street if they're used in combination with cobra heads where the cobras light the street and intersections while the acorns help light the sidewalk in a dual lighting system.

    2. The optics of the streetlight look good. The lens is clear so that suggests that the light source is tucked into the fixture like a cut-off. As long as they keep the wattage of the frosted sidewalk lights down, that is a fairly good example of a dual lighting system. I caught a glimpse of the light with one running on daylight hours. If the lights' are something like this, then they should be pretty good.


    3. Yes, the cobra head, two types of acorn style globes, and potentially two types of cut-off decorative fixtures.

      I finally got a picture of the NEMA wattage sticker for a light. 400 watts a light. That will turn a sidewalk into day even with bad optics on a cobra.


      and it doesn't stop there. Floodlights for the crosswalk and sidewalk running at 250 and 400 watts each.


      Assuming the cobra is pulling the same 400 watts, that light is running on over 1,050 watts. That's more power then an entire Fresno intersection for a crosswalk.

      You said it, they light their streets like stadiums.

    4. Maybe reviving an old thread bit, take a look at this…


      The light is a fully shielded or full cutoff acorn. Also take a look at the size of the building in the background. It certainly puts GV Urban ' s developments to shame. Here's some more mixed urban developments.




      Here's the transit mall that connects to it all.


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