Fresno’s pedestrian mall, one of the first in the country, is no more. A multi-year campaign by the city to remove the pedestrian and bicycle mall it and replace it with a street for cars has been successful, as (de)construction is well underway.
I took a walk down the entire length last week and took too many pictures. This post, from August, has some reference pictures as to what it looked like a year ago. Be warned, this post is long.
The north part has totally been removed. The center part looks disconcerting, with plenty of mall left but lots of destruction. The southern end has already progressed to the point that concrete is being laid for the parking areas.
The speed of this project has surprised me. Kicking off was a year delayed (original completion date was next month) but they’ve since moved quickly after a March groundbreaking. That’s certainly good for the businesses which are in a bad shape right now. However, I was surprised to see how superficial the construction was. It appears that they scraped off the mall and are laying the new road straight on the dirt. That is, I didn’t see any digging. I assume the area has very old sewer and electrical systems, and now would have been the very best time to replace those. Maybe lay some fiber cable as well? Seems short-sighted to ignore that. If the area “booms” as the project component claims, will the existing underground infrastructure support them?
Section 1: Tuolumne to Fresno
We start at Fulton and Tuolumne, which is the north end of the mall. For reference, all pictures taken lastThursday starting at around 4pm.
No work at the intersection yet, which is slated to get major pedestrian improvements.
The orphan street, which hasn’t led anywhere in 40 years, is being used for staging.
And so we begin. A pedestrian promenade reduced to around 8 feet of walking space.
The walkway to CVS.
The former mall
Narrow walkway between construction and a parking lot.
This would make a good Halloween maze.
Maybe a maze with a maximum security prison theme.
One of the side streets, which were also all pedestrianized.
Ah! Suddenly the claustrophobia ebbs and fences make way for trees, a playground, and open pedestrian space. For now.
I guess it was nice of them to leave the playground a little longer. Remember, the city claimed that this project would not impact park space at all. (Fresno is 97th in park space, out of 100).
But not all is well.
Another oasis remains, for now.
This pub is owned by one of the strongest voices supporting the destruction of the Fulton Mall. The yellow tape marks the boundary of his outdoor seating/alcohol area.
Really a pleasant area to eat, drink, chat, and gather.
Although the owner, Craig Scharton, claimed that the project would only yield dividends to business, he closed up shop. I guess destruction scares customers away. He claims he will re-open when construction ends. We’ll see.
A few fountains remain.
You quickly notice how people walk along the shade.
Businesses are closing earlier than they would in the past.
When the mall was built, creating shade was key. That won’t be the case in the future.
Section 2: Fresno to Tulare
We cross Fresno Street.
You can still get the mall experience here.
For a little bit. Before you reach destruction.
The new Fulton Street will not have any bicycle parking.
The new Fulton Street will not have any bicycle lanes.
I think these trees are being saved? I hope so.
The areas that aren’t disaster zones still see shoppers.
Down a side street. Parking is coming to this stub.
Fresno’s most famous sculpture has been hauled away, to be refurbished.
This is outrageous. This business as only open for a few months when they (and their neighbors) wee forced to close due to a lack of electricity. It has since been a year. I was told that developers were going to start investing the SECOND the shovels started digging?
This fountain was filled in many years ago, as part of the city’s neglect of the mall.
Skateboard, bicycle, bicycle. The new Fulton Street will have zero accommodations for these folks.
This store is quite unique.
Section 3: Tulare to Inyo
And now we get to the southern end. This part has progressed the most. However, the construction treatment is abysmal. If you wanted to kill every business this is how you’d do it.
Who on earth wants to walk down this? Narrow, dark, limited exists… it’s like crime alley.
Sure there are signs for the businesses…
And there were some pedestrians, but I can’t imagine the businesses are enjoying this.
Behind the fence, scenes from a disaster movie.
A maze to reach the stores
What was my favorite fountain.
Come shop guys.
Businesses are open.
Casa de Tamales is barely a couple of months old here. I hope they survive this.
This is an accurate representation of future bicycle facilities on Fulton Street.
This tiny part will actually remain as a pedestrian mall.
I feel so safe.
While the alleys will see more traffic, there are no plans to spruce them up.
Let’s cut across quickly and look at the opposite side.
Landscaping being removed to add angled parking.
And again, the new circulation plan means that to access many of the new parking spaces, one will have to treat themselves to a lovely drive through these alleys.
No money has been earmarked to make these look pleasant or safe. They will make a lovely impression on opening day.
Concrete has already been placed for the parking area. As I mentioned previously, it appears that no subterranean upgrades were performed.
And we reach the end.
The ever-so-lively existing Fulton Street shows us the wonderful future of the mall.
We can walk around to the East side.
And take this very lovely funnel hallway
To this very lovely enclosed space, which is completely invisible from absolutely all angles. Perfect murder spot really.The city kicked out all the vendors in that store a few years ago.
Escape route blocked off.
Inside the old department store.
We can ride this baby to the roof. I’m sure all of the future visitors, after driving from their northern suburban home, will be thrilled to use this.
Parking is plentiful.
And we can sort of look at the construction. I believe that will be a midblock crosswalk. You can see how narrow the future sidewalk will be.
Bonus: Across the street this lovely new residential building which opened last year.
And this exciting venture.
Ahem. Anyway. $20 million available for cars, but apparently zero for this disaster. I trust you will believe me that the smell makes the NYC subway feel like the Swizz countryside.
Future visitors will be thrilled.
And that’s it! Fulton Mall from end to end. Next time I do a photo update I expect that all remaining traces of the mall will be gone. Again, for the sake of the businesses, I hope the city works as fast as possible.