Your Annual Manchester Center Photo Update

Is it really a construction update if not much construction is going on? Perhaps that’s a bit of a spoiler as I do my annual tour of what’s going on with Manchester Center. As a reminder, here are some previous posts on the topic:

The photos I’m posting today are a few weeks old, but with these timelines, who cares?

We start outside where the only real changes could be found. Ironically, all the construction has taken place at Sears – which is owned independently. That is, while the Sears building is connected to the mall, it’s not part of it. If you weren’t aware, last year Sears decided to empty out half their store and lease the space to two (or three?) other companies. This year, they decided to vacate the remaining space as well (hence the store closing signs).

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Your standard boring strip mall facade.

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Note sure what the deal is with the end part. I guess a 3rd tenant?

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Looking towards the rest of the mall

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Inside the Sears (it has since closed) the partition was sort of sloppy, with that ugly sheet.

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I have no idea what store, in 2020, wants two floors in Fresno. Off topic, but has Fresno lost more than half of its operating escalators? Forever 21 at Fashion Fair closed their 2nd and 3rd floors too. That leaves JC Penny and the two Macys…anyone else have one? At least 2 building along Fulton Street used to have them as well.

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The Auto Center closed December 2019

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Anyway, onto the mall…which looks the same!

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No work being done at the planned outdoor plaza area

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And the long-promised food hall looks the same as always. That building also used to have escalators.

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I’m pretty sure the mall lost two more stores back here.

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Another year and we’ve lost some more neon.

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The directory still suggests there’s an upstairs food court. There is not.

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At least they had some Christmas spirit.

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The food court was on the left, it is walled off now

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And we get to the only place where any work was done. Last time I visited, you could see the work but you weren’t allow in. Now you are. But from above, it’s clear how little they did.

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Upstairs, only a very small section received carpet

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This section is mostly closed off, and it has deteriorated

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A couple of offices remain upstairs

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In the previous picture, see the staircase in the back? You cant still use it, presumably as an emergency exit. That gives you a “behind the scenes” look.

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One “big improvement” is that they did fix these two escalators.

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The new stuff looks perfectly fine. The problem is…everything you see in this photo is all they did. And there’s no signs of any additional work.

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That’s it folks! If there was any work done for the food hall, it’s impossible to see because the windows are blacked out. But based on how the rest of the mall looks, I doubt that has changed.

I think it’s about time to call this redevelopment project a failure. The only reason to do another photo update in the future is if someone tells me that they have started up again.

14 Replies to “Your Annual Manchester Center Photo Update”

    1. I’m not sure what if anything could help. The Sierra Vista outdoor expansion from 2007 still has empty stores that have never been leased, and Clovis has money!

      At this point, maybe turning it into a medical center would work. It looks depressing enough to be a doctor’s office.

      1. I think the key is going to be moving it away from shopping and toward services and lifestyle options. They are on the right track with the food hall, but will it ever get done? Something akin to Emeryville Public Market would be nice in there, with 5-6 local food options plus a brewery or two, a distillery, wine tasting, etc. Other options: a gym (probably a specialized gym like Orangetheory, SoulCycle, or similar, but any gym would be good), an indoor mini golf course, another adult-geared recreational space like axe throwing, bocce ball, or an escape room, a co-working space (like Hashtag), a theatre space similar to Second Space (Rogue could even use it as one of their venues), etc.

  1. All we need now is an investigation from the Bee into what the heck is going on there. Did they run out of money? Did the redevelopment firm misappropriate funds?

      1. Looks like they definitely ran out of money. Beth wants no part of this because she’s profresno-only wants to publish POSITIVE things for our fair city. Smh.

  2. this project was a BUST. Its sad but they have to be realistic at this point. I love their optimism but they have to know the demographics of the area. The metropolitan area just isnt big enough to support a lackluster 2nd mall when its competing against the only mall the matters and is the only one currently working in FAshion Fair. The only one that has potential to succeed is sierra vista, because if that was to be renovated and have actual stores, MANY in clovis would rather stay in clovis then trek to fashion fair im sure. So it was a major gamble the investors/owners of Manchester thought they would bring middle and upper class people with money to go to a less desireable part of town. And the people around the area have less spending money to really sustain and push the manchester to succeed long term.

    Another one is Fancher Creek, that place is also bust. The only time new stuff and renovation works if seems is if its in desireable parts of fresno or clovis. Which means in the sprawling areas because thats where all the people with money are. They moved over there to avoid going to bad parts. I’m just being realistic. It’s what those people are thinking but wont say. Even if manchester got completed, the only people who would frequent it are those around that area–which again means less spending moeny as its generally lower income there, and the mall would struggle to bring those who actually have spending money to go there. Same problem downtown has.

    1. Once again Redd..you took the words right out of my mouth. It’s almost scary how much alike we think.

  3. it may be best suited as an office mall or an annex for fresno city college at this point with brick and mortar on its deathbed. the project is a bust and it might also be time to consider scrapping the remodel of manchester transit center at this point.

  4. I’ve lived in Central Fresno since 1997 and the Manchester Mall was o.k. for folks who didn’t want or need to go to Fashion Fair. It served a population of kids, large families who wanted good prices, different kinds of merchandise, different kinds of food, etc. than those who go to Fashion Fair or River Park. The out-of-town developers (who bought the mall) kicked out some of the best little places, small businesses who had found a niche in Fresno, and as a result, also their regular customers. The out-of-town developers clearly did not (still do not) know Fresno at all and had the impression that they could bring folks into Central Fresno for who knows what reasons? All very big errors and so we have a mall that used to be fine for some Central Fresno folks and others from downtown or west side areas, and now the mall is no longer serving this clientele. They’ve dropped the ball (lost interest) and made the mall less accessible, drove Sears away due to higher rent, and one of the best restaurants for Central Fresno, The King Buffet, is also gone. Many places were given only 2 or 3 days notice, before they were told to leave. Few vendors were given any financial compensation before being told to leave. It was a colossal mistake. Now, the residents of the area could come together to help decide the future of the Manchester Mall. I’m sure we could come up with many good ideas! Which city council district is the mall in anyway? Best parts of the mall: the Farmer’s Market on Fridays, the movie theater, and a few other places. No Sears, no food court, and many empty spaces and projects that have been abandoned indefinitely, it seems. But we can figure this out, maybe add a senior center, bring in a lively food court, etc. etc.

  5. I think Burlington near Auto Center Drive still has working escalators. Thanks for doing this. Please don’t stop.

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