Belated Downtown Fresno Photo Update

I went downtown a couple of months ago (January) to take photos, as I usually do. I hesitated on posting them because frankly, not much has changed over the last year. This is in contrast to five years ago, when there was always a new building popping up.

Then corona hit, and the photos seemed even less relevant, but now I’ve changed my mind on that. With the virus, everything is essentially frozen in time. Nothing is under construction, nothing will be open any time soon, and nobody is lining up to lay down piles of cash on new development. That is, even if the virus suddenly disappeared tomorrow, there are too many questions about the economy for investors. Will people get their jobs back? Will there be a change in demand for office space?

This question is especially relevant to the retail world. Retail in downtown Fresno has always operated on a razor-thin margin, and nobody knows if these businesses can survive an extended closure. And even when the all clear comes, and they can reopen, are people going to rush out to patronize them? With that question in mind, these pictures serve to document what was going on before the new economic bomb hit. It also helps that I like to take pictures when absolutely no one is out, so it looks like everybody is staying at home.

This update also covers High Speed Rail (HSR), Warehouse Row, and Fresno Community Hospital.

The Brewery District

While the removal of the Fulton Mall was supposed to spur massive growth, a lot of the action has been south of Inyo, which was always a street and didn’t get a penny in new infrastructure. Funny how that works.

The area has turned into a brewery district, with Zack’s Brewing Company being the newest one. Is it any good? I wouldn’t know – I like cider.

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Expansive outdoor area. Although they need some trees if they want it to be a real beer garden.

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They did a good job. Here’s what Google Streetview shows in 2014.

Just two buildings down, on the same side of the street, plans are in the works for another brewery. Here’s a December 2019 article from the Fresno Bee:

A brick building estimated to be 101 years old at 736 Fulton St., across the street from the Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co.’s beer garden, has new owners. They are in the process of renovating the building, with plans to rent space out to businesses.

Local developer Reza Assemi and technology entrepreneur Jamin Brazil bought the building last year. It’s in the heart of the Brewery District, near Inyo Street, next door to the Mecca Billiards supply shop with the giant mural featuring pool balls.

They plan to turn the bottom floor into spaces for microbreweries – or perhaps one big brewery – or other entertainment-oriented businesses. The second floor will be turned into offices and other work spaces.

And its basement? Maybe a speakeasy.

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According to Google Streetview, it did have a couple of businesses recently. The project has a super basic website here.

Across the street from Zack’s is a lovely building that was renovated and just about to open when I stopped by for pictures.

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Google Streetview shows that this building had been sitting empty for quite some time, but fortunately it was well preserved. This building (are they actually two separate buildings) was gearing up to host a number of bar options. One, Modernist Craft Cocktail Bar, managed to open for a month before the virus forced them to close. Another, 411 Broadway Brew, did not get the chance to open their new “Rec Room.”

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All of these are just down the block from the area pioneer, Tioga-Sequoia. If and when they all open up, this will be a fantastic block to do a bar crawl. I just want to reiterate that all this could have happened without destroying the Fulton Mall since this street was always outside of it.

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As we move a block over, to Van Ness, we see the highly successful Bitwise. That’s been open for a few years, so the real news is with the parklet.

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The design is pretty nice.

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They took a couple of parking spots away to create a new public space, for people to sit and stuff. Its a perfectly cool parklet, but the irony of removing the Fulton Mall a block away – so people could park in front of the businesses – only to turn around and do this is too much for me.

Then I walked to Broadway to see what was new. Anyone know why they put this temporary traffic signal up on Mono and Broadway?

Well, nothing to report on. I was going to walk to H, but something felt off. Turns out, I was right! There had been a drive-by shooting just 2 hours before my photo expedition.

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I did go past H in a car instead. Remember this from 2016?

The H Street plan looks like this: The two buildings closest to Inyo, 752 and 740 H St., are set for demolition because they are unsafe, Frazier said. In their place would be a five-story building with 10,000 square feet of first-floor retail space and 51 apartments above, some of which will be affordable and some available at market rates.

The northernmost building, 752 H St., was built in about 1893 and is “among the oldest extant buildings in Fresno,” according to a report by Karana Hattersley-Drayton, the city’s historic preservation project manager.

Fresno Bee

Do not hold your breath for that project, as indicated by the “available” sign.

High Speed Rail

We move up to H and Tulare, where the Greyhound Station used to be, and the future High Speed Rail station is supposed to go. I still don’t get why they were in such a hurry to knock it down, since they have done absolutely nothing since.

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Nothing to report with the planned underpass either, although now it is extra fenced in.

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From here I went to check on the other High Speed Rail construction site, up by Divisadero and H. By the way, this place has good pupusas.

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Construction is almost finished on Fresno’s first rail subway!

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Still impossible to get photos from the other side, at least legally.

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Alright, before we head to the east side of downtown, let’s swing down to another HSR construction site…

This is all down by Cedar and North.

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Cedar overpass

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Warehouse Row

That was a fun detour! Now we head to the “warehouse row” area which I always forget about. That’s a shame, because there’s some nice stuff! We’re looking around P and Inyo.

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Shame about the garbage bike racks…

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Bitwise

Just a little south of the above images, is the new Bitwise building, in what used to by the Spaghetti Factory. These are around Ventura and P.

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Not sure what’s going on with their neighbor on R street.

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Community Hospital

What is constantly growing but rarely discussed? Community Regional Medical Center! They went and built another massive parking garage.

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And ere is their newest building.

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Other High Speed Rail

To end this post, some more HSR photos! Ok, not downtown, but they don’t deserve their own post, so I’ll throw them in here. This starts north of Herndon, getting onto 99.

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And in Madera, the construction is very visible for an airplane. I just wished airplane windows weren’t always filthy.

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That is the end of this update, I hope you enjoyed it!

6 Replies to “Belated Downtown Fresno Photo Update”

  1. same story as it has been for the last decade.. enormous potential in downtown fresno and some of these pics continue to reiterate that, but many are growing tiresome on merely going off potential.we want to see results from these projects and the reward still has yet to match the investment it seems

  2. the fresno grizzlies possibly getting demoted to single only makes matters worse. if they are demoted, it will be a huge blow to chukchansi park and might be time to reconfigure the chuk into a soccer stadium to try to bring a soccer team back to fresno.

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