One year ago I wondered if “the Manchester Center Food Hall was Really Coming?” I recently took a stroll around the mall to see if we could get an answer to that question. I have some good news and bad news.
The good news: Some work is being done.
The bad news: The pace at which the work is being done indicates that there is a single person working on his weekends to complete it. At the current pace, we will all be dead before that person is done.
Background: In May 2015 a company announced a renovation of Manchester Center. A year later, nothing had happened. In September 2016, the Bee reported that work was beginning and phase 1 would be done by Spring 2017.
Here is where we are as of January 2019, after a full four years of hope.
You don’t have to stop by the mall to notice that they kept their word on doing exterior renovations. It doesn’t look exactly like the render, but it is something.
I wouldn’t call it beautiful, but it is certainly more modern. I wish they had added even more windows, especially where the steak house was, but that’s not different than any other mall.
Here it is head on.
And on the Blackstone side, you can see the main entrance (with new Chipotle), and also how the new exterior compares with Sears. Sears owns their building, and isn’t about to spend any money on it, so it’s going to be like this until Sears dies.
The one other exterior change on the Blackstone side has been the removal if the highs-speed slip lanes between Shields and Blackstone. These were unique in Fresno, and let drivers make the turn without stopping at the light. Unfortunately, that speed is really bad for pedestrians. Fresno took the great step of filling those in….but in typical Fresno fashion, screwed up by removing the existing pedestrian connection between the mall and the corner. Seriously?
Finally, we take a quick peak around back. There is no sign of construction on the promised plaza that is supposed to better link the mall with the movie theater.
The Food Hall
Let’s be honest, this is what most people care about.
Here is the moment of truth. We approach the old Gottschalks. The exterior has been painted to match the rest of the mall, but they have done no other maintenance.
We peak inside.
What has happened over the past 12 months?
No food hall any time soon folks.
Well, the food hall is still a bust. What about the rest of the mall? The Sears side looks the same as always, except Sears is downsizing by blocking off shopping areas. Just two weeks ago, it looked like Sears was done for good, but the store will be around for at least another year. Place your bet folks, what will happen first: the food hall opens, or Sears closes?
We take a walk to the other side of the mall where the carousel used to be. This is what it looked like in January 2018, when interior construction started.
And here is what it looks like after 12 months. Progress? Absolutely. But I have seen 400 home neighborhoods go up faster. Enjoy!
And that’s it! A whole year of progress. On one hand it’s nice to see some improvement, but on the other hand, this is not a sustainable pace of construction. I do hope that by January 2020 there is much, much more to report.
What do you all think, will the Manchester Food Hall ever open?