2021 Downtown Fresno Construction Update

Would it be Stop and Move if I didn’t post my construction update over a month after taking the photos? Of course not! At least it’s not as bad as my 2020 update.

Anyway, I spent some time downtown and in the Tower District looking for new construction. 2020 was a slow year, obviously due to the pandemic, but development is showing signs of life again, and there a few new housing projects that should pop up quickly this year. If you missed it, I already posted about the new protected bicycle lane and the TOD apartments on Blackstone.

The District

We kick things off in the Tower District, which is downtown enough for me (scandalous I know). New apartments are going up on Van Ness and Alhambra, just a couple of blocks from the Tower Theater. Fresno State archives show this lot has been empty since at least 1977, and probably much longer – that’s crazy! While this is a prime location, and housing will be great to have near the bars and restaurants, they’re unfortunately only doing 18 units. Seems like a missed opportunity really. Oddly, I can’t find a rendering of this project.

I also know a lot of people are unhappy with this development, calling it a gentrification project. I might agree if they were knocking stuff down, but it’s been an empty lot for 50+ years! You can’t gentrify dirt.

View from Fulton

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Here is Van Ness. In typical Fresno fashion, they closed off the sidewalk without offering a pedestrian detour.

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Looking south on Van Ness, the intersection with Alhambra does not have marked crosswalks

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Just north of the property, there’s another prime vacant lot on Van Ness and Olive

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Tower Parklets

This probably doesn’t deserve its own header, but it’s cool to see. I hope they become permanent.

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A second one is just down the block

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Olive really needs a much wider sidewalk.

And this isn’t new, but it’s cool to see – a traffic diverter / traffic calming installation on Fulton

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High Speed Rail

Ok, now we go downtown for real. We start at the High Speed Rail (HSR) tunnel under 180. It looks done, but also, not done? They’ve clearly completed all the tunnel work, but now everyone left and it’s a big old hole. Time to work on the next part folks? Hello, is anyone at CAHSRA there? Maybe a little sense of urgency?

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This is across the street, where the rail line will continue south.

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And looking to downtown, across the massive railroad right of way.

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I’m not sure if this is HSR related, but if it is, it shows their lack of care.

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Oh, and also, note Hotel Fresno! I completely forgot that they were finally renovating, so this is as close as I got. Woops.

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Chronologically, the photos of The Monarch are next, but we will skip them for a second to finish up HSR. Here’s the complete lack of progress at Tulare Street. They just announced they’ll be closing Ventura soon, which is incredibly irresponsible without this one being done yet.

Work on the underpass was originally anticipated to begin in late 2017, but was slowed by delays in relocating other utilities in the area to make way for the major construction.

Fresno Bee

Insane.

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Crossing over to the other side of the tracks, looking toward Chinatown

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The old station still chilling. Time to start the new one?

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The Monarch @ Chinatown

Wow, new housing in Chinatown! Probably the first in decades. As with the Blackstone TOD, this one is also thanks to public funding. Check out the design website. The renders look nice! It will have 57 units. If/when HSR opens, this will be a great location to be, at F and Mariposa. In the near term, the area is pretty desolate though. No parks or any public amenities to speak of, and not a soul in sight when I stopped by.

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Not vertical yet.

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Here’s the distance to downtown.

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In the photo above, the housing is on the left. As for that construction ahead to the right? No idea what the plan is after cleanup.

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Brewery District

When I visited, Fresno was still in the purple tier, so most things were closed.

This mural is fairly new.

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It’s on H Street, which was supposed to be home to a bunch of renovated buildings on the left. Nothing continues to happen.

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I tried to get some coffee to go, but no action inside. Or hours posted, anywhere.

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At 736 Fulton St, this looks as it did a year ago. Hopefully the interior is moving along.

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I checked out Fulton (Mall) and at least the vast majority of the fountains were on, but I didn’t spot any new business.

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The parked cars do make the road seem a little more populated. But being a weekend, I would wager the majority of cars are taken up by employees, since parking is free.

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The parcel on Fulton and Inyo, which developers SWORE would be developed as soon as the Fulton Mall was destroyed remains a parking lot.

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Modernist Craft Cocktail Bar has a very nice parklet set up. I assume they’ve reopened since I took this photo.

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Zacks had a really nice outdoor area set up. Well, they’re no longer, as they were recently bought by Full Circle Beer and Sonoma cider company. I never tried Zacks, so I can’t say if this is a bad thing or not. I do like cider though, and downtown Fresno needs more cider. Hopefully the new owners add some trees and shade.

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That’s it for my photos. As I mentioned earlier, I forgot to swing by Hotel Fresno. I also didn’t check out the new prison expansion. While that’s a new downtown Fresno building, it’s not exactly something worth celebrating. Google Streetview caught progress last November, so you can look at that.

I feel for all the brewery district businesses that pretty much lost a year of activity. I hope as Fresno moves from the red to orange tiers, and the vaccines go out, they will get good business. Very good business.

But also, don’t drink and drive folks. Take the bus, it’s free now.

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