Category: Retail

Fresno Launches Parklet Program

The Business Journal reported last week that Fresno has launched a parklet pilot program. (Header image is theirs).

A parklet is a low-cost, mini park that is built in what used to be a parking space (or two, or three). The intention behind them is to turn a space previously used for private car storage into something that can be used by everybody. In many cities, they are built in partnership with a local business, usually a food-related one, to create new outdoor seating. In most cases, the businesses agrees to maintain the parklet, but they are not allowed to restrict it to customers.

A parklet in southern New Jersey

The first one opened by Bitwise as a way to provide some outdoor space for the company. Click to read more!

Sears Closing: What does it mean for Manchester Center?

It was inevitable, but it still comes as a shock: the Sears at Manchester Center is closing.

Last time I toured Manchester Center, in January 2019, I asked “what will happen first: the food hall opens, or Sears closes?” Now we have our answer.

Last January, the store was shrinking.

While Sears may not be the hottest shop in town, it still draws some shoppers. The Sierra Vista location, which they lease, is profitable enough that it will remain open (at least for another holiday season). Their Manchester Center rent is zero, as they own the building and the land it sits on. While the store is connected to the mall, it’s not actually part of it, which is why the store entrance is not centered (title image). Click to read more!

January 2018 Old Town Clovis Construction Update

All the changes at FAX took my attention last month, but now I finally have time to post my latest update on the changes going on in Old Town Clovis!

Previous updates:

September 2017
February 2017
May 2016
July 2015
February 2015 

We start in the center, which is the area surrounding the new Centennial Plaza. Construction here is all done, and the new new buildings and plaza are looking good.

For reference, this is what the area looked like in 2011, according to Google Streetview:

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And after the plaza was built, but before the buildings went up:

Here’s what we have now:

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I like the sign.

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Everything looks good except this little service alley – way too exposed.

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Sidewalk is tight, but it wasn’t a big lot.

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I really like this indoor/outdoor dining area.

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Moving to the side of the building. The entrance to the dining area is via the plaza.

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And the back. They did a really good job here, as this side is just as attractive as the front.

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This is what the other new building looks like from the back. Not as nice.

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Reminds me of a motel.
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By comparison…

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Ok, moving to the second building, there is also retail on the first floor. Here is the entrance.

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Plaza to the right, Pollasky to the front

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It is part of the Me n Eds chain. This is the view from the street.

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Plaza in the center looks nice.

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On Pollasky, this is the front.

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This entrance is a disappointment. The stairs lead to an entrance to Blast and Brew…but a sign points you to the side. There is also a retailer up these steps.

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And from a little bit down the street.

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For reference, this is what was proposed, specifically the building on the right side of the plaza. The clock feature wasn’t built, the retail isn’t at street level, and windows were removed.

Final photos of this project:

 

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Overall a success, although I would declare the building on the left the winner.

It’s good added infill in “downtown” Clovis, and improves the street. Instead of a parking lot, there are two new buildings with retail on the ground, and a decent product above them.

Moving away, we see progress on the hotel being built on Clovis Avenue. This one is “special” because the parking will be underneath the building, something uncommon in the area where surface parking dominates. Construction has been really slow.

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It’s ok.

And finally, our last bit of Clovis infill. These new homes are unique because they front the Fresno-Clovis rail trail, instead of a street. I was excited to see what they’d do, but the end product is pretty disappointing.

Part of the project included building the same crap you see everywhere else, except the driveways front Sierra, which is rare for new development.

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Here is the alley where vehicles can access the new trail homes, on the right.

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The back of these homes looks like the front of most other places, except the fence is there to hide the backyard. It looks odd.

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I feel like they should have just fenced the entire back yard in.

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No idea if this parking is legal.

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And there we see the bike trail and an existing hotel.

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The trail is pretty popular.

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Looking back at the new homes, the front is a whole bunch of fencing too.

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It’s like a house with no front or back, just sides.

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Ok, fine, this is the front. But it sure is ugly. Windows too expensive these days?

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The other new one has nicer shielding.

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I understand they would want a fence to make it clear this is a private property and not part of the trail, but why does it look like a chicken coop?

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And then the fence for the homes that front Sierra.

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Boring boring boring

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Lots of bikes out though.

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So that’s it for Clovis infill!

Once that hotel is finished, I’m not aware of any “real” infill construction in the city coming up. And no, I don’t count a CVS being built on a strip mall parking lot as infill. That’s a little disappointing. The first project here is a big win, and the other two are better than the status quo. Shame nothing is in the pipeline. I guess my attention will shift back to Downtown Fresno, which had a couple of years of construction inactivity (aside from Fulton Mall), but is supposed to be picking up again.

Is the Manchester Center Food Hall Really Coming?

I love food halls, or em, an “artisan food community”. I’ve enjoyed them in Los Angeles, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. So naturally, I was excited when one was announced for Fresno back in September 2016. Especially because the location was to be inside the Manchester Center Mall.

The plans include a new mall entrance, a redesigned facade with signage, a marketplace or “artisan food community” for chefs, food trucks and restaurants, an exterior shopping area and an outdoor events plaza.
Fresno Bee

At the time, it was supposed to be ready “a long way off, probably opening in late spring of 2017, Bagunu says, though construction has started.”

In January 2017, this was the update:

Inside the mall, renovations are going hot and heavy in the former Gottschalks store, though you wouldn’t know it because windows covered in black plastic hide the mess. It’s the beginning stages of what the mall calls a marketplace – essentially a fancy food court. Click to read more!

Fresno Fulton Mall / Street September 2017 Construction Photo Tour

This is a comprehensive look at the Fulton Mall (future Fulton Street) in Fresno, 2 months before construction is scheduled to end. Fresno is spending around $20 million to eliminate a pedestrian mall and re-open it to vehicles and vehicular parking. The intention behind it is to bring economic vitality to the corridor.=&0=&

Old Town Clovis Construction Update

I must admit, losing all those photos in the old blog posts was discouraging. While I still have all those photos saved on multiple hard drives, there are just too many to find, upload, and relink. It essentially made years of posts useless.

And that discouragement made July suddenly turn to September.

But I am back now, with fresh photos that will be hosted on Flickr. Are there any guarantees that Flickr won’t do the same thing? Nope, but I guess that’s a risk we must take.

I’m starting with a nice and easy post: a look at the newest construction in Old Town Clovis.

Last updates:
February 2017
May 2016 

The most obvious change is that the two new buildings next to Centennial Plaza are almost done. Not only are they new (a novelty in old town), but they’re the biggest yet. 3 stories isn’t exactly a skyscraper, but they do make an impression, and frankly, a nice one. I’m not in love with the architecture, but it will do.

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I am impressed that both buildings went up.

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And here they are seen on a day where the air quality wasn’t quite the best

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The only other development in Old Town Clovis right now is the new hotel which will be placed over parking. Not the most exciting development, but I believe this makes for more non-road construction happening in Downtown Clovis than Downtown Fresno.

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And finally, Sierra Vista Mall, just outside Old Town, has a great new laser tag arena + kids play area. The laser tag was a blast!

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High tech too. You can watch other people play, and they have someone monitoring to make sure no one is cheating. Other high tech features include multiple weapon types + a health system (you can be a medic).

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Bonus:

Don’t forget to check out the Farmer’s Market before the season ends!

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They have a museum I had never noticed.

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Next post will be a complete look at construction on the Fulton Mall.

Fresno downtown and midtown photo update!

This will be my last Fresno construction update photo dump for awhile! Once again, I’ve gotten far behind and my photos are quickly becoming out of date. So rather than 2-3 posts, they’re all going in here!=&0=&=&1=&

Clovis Infill – A Photo Update

It feels a little odd talking about infill in Clovis. It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, as the city is known for its endless subdivisions. And yet in 2017, Old Town Clovis appears to have almost as much infill construction as Downtown Fresno going on.

I reported on two of these projects in July 2015, but I’ve added a few other ones here.

  • Centennial Plaza
  • La Quinta Inn
  • Rail-Trail Housing
  • New Library
  • Sierra Meadows Park
  • Clovis Community Hospital

Centennial Plaza

Let’s start with the big one: Centennial Plaza. This is the heart of Old Town on Pollasky, and I last took a look in May 2016 when the new plaza was finished. That update was focused on the street improvements, but now new buildings are rising up to frame the plaza.

Only 3 stories tall, the new building does make an impression in a downtown where a second story is a novelty.

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No basement here

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Close to the street

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Construction has also started on the building framing the other side of the plaza

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La Quinta Inn

A wee bit south, we find construction has finally started on La Quinta Inn. I reported on this one in May of 2015. Aside from building on a vacant lot, what makes this development interesting is that the hotel will be built over parking. This signals that demand for development in Old Town has increased to the point where large surface parking lots no longer make economic sense.

It’s a start.

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Rail-Trail Housing

In that same post from July of 2015, I talked about an approved plan to build new homes on an oddly shaped lot at Sierra and Clovis. What made the plan unique was that two of the homes would front the regional bicycle trail.

Construction has begun:

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The existing homes are very modest

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The alley will allow for rear driving access

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The existing homes are getting carports added

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Construction 

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 View from the trail

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New Library

The existing Clovis library is a disgrace. It’s about twenty years overdue for a replacement, and fortunately, one is coming soon.

Here we see the completed Old Town trail, looking towards the new library complex

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Nothing has started yet, but it is expected soon.

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The new complex will be behind this existing resting point

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As an aside, that little station has a trail map which is actually updated every year

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Looking north, the property is still on the right

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It will link to Clovis Avenue

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Here is the exterior of the existing library, which will be retained as another government building

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Odd?

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I stopped by on a day they were closed. Whoops. However, you can see how narrow the building is…

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Sierra Meadows Park

Moving to the more suburban areas, we have Sierra Meadows Park. This is quite possibly the slowest park project in California. It appears that every year they add one little feature. Over the past five years, they’ve added benches, some lighting, and bags for dog waste. 2017 is supposed to see the arrival of restrooms.

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This might be where the new restrooms are going

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Someone posted an overhead video on Youtube taken from a drone. It does an excellent job of showing that 90% of the park is still just empty space. The plan includes adding a lake, auditorium, playground etc. Maybe by 2030?

Clovis Community Hospital 

This hospital doesn’t stop growing. Admittedly, the one type of development I rarely follow is that related to hospital construction. While they’re open to the public, they’re not quite public spaces. They’re also very insular.

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However I stopped by to see if any work has been done on connecting the regional bicycle trail network. Green shows what exists, red what is proposed.

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The Clovis Trail maps show the proposal

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I did find some trail, which appears to have been built in the past two years. Not the connector though.

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Walking to 168 to see where the tunnel would go

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And I think that’s it for Clovis. The infill anyway. Like always, there are 500+ homes tract under construction at the city edge.

Fresno Fulton Mall January 2017 Deconstruction Photo Tour

It’s been eight months since I last looked at the Fulton Mall. Back then, major construction had started in most parts, with fences everywhere. Concrete had already been poured on the parking areas at the southern end. I assumed it would be mostly done by now, but not even close. Let’s take a look at the current status (current as of last week).

Note: Pictures taken on New Years Day, so most businesses closed for the holiday, but if you look closely you’ll note many have been run out of business thanks to the abysmal construction staging. Also, please let me know if you have trouble viewing the image. As google has killed Picassa, which was integrated with Blogger, I have moved to Flickr. 

We start at the north end, by Warner’s Theater. Nothing had happened in May, so the changes are pretty major.

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The sidewalks have been built as planned, with the odd, but acceptable use of different crosswalk ramp treatments

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As I mentioned way back when I went over the construction diagrams, this is the best part of the project. 3 wide lanes become 2 narrow lanes.

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Having the sidewalk extension be the entire length of the box office would have been nice though

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Nothing has happened to the orphan road

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It is hard to get pictures in an order that makes sense because the fences are serious barriers

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A relocated fountain is being built

Back in May

Now
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Across from the CVS, moving south

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By Hotel Fresno (no progress on that project) at Merced Street.

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The construction phasing, by the way, is an absolute disaster for
retailers. Like worst case scenario. If they wanted to put everybody out
of business, they could not have done a better job. The signs were
terrible and the walking paths a mess.

Detour? To where?

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I could not figure out how to access this block of the mall, so I took a detour through the alley.

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Looking north, odd construction phasing

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This next section hasn’t changed at all. Why did they even start with the destruction only to pause for 8 months?

May

Now:
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May:

Now

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May:

Now

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This building is looking great

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The dumbest road

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Mariposa towards Brodway

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This won’t change hence the DUMBEST ROAD

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It will dead-end here

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I can’t tell if this is restoration or abandonment

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BONUS FONT

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Remember, this alley will be a critical part of the new vehicle circulation plan

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Looking north

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The stop light remains in use, but there is no pedestrian crossing

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It is a pedestrian maze

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Zero effort made to create a safe, accessible pedestrian crossing during construction. 

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Plz come shop the stores are open we claim

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The southern end was the quickest to move. Concrete was put in 8 months ago. Asphalt 4-5 months ago. Now lights are in. Still not open to the public

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 New lights. I don’t know how I feel about them. They feel modern and dated at the same time. LEDs on the modern cobra overhead.

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 The new ped lights send light out sideways, rather than down

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Tree well I assume

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Removing the tarps make the fence maze seem less like a prison escape haunted house at six flags. However, they should maximize pedestrian space.

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Too small for trees, what are these holes for? Notice the double lights and the odd lower lighting well

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The sidewalk is new btw, in the same style as the mall.

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Midblock crossing to only section that will remain pedestrianized

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Maybe too many light posts

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Across the street looking north. These are the “super wide sidewalks” the proponents have continuously lied about.

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While the sidewalk is a nod to preservationists, I admit it looks a tad dated

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You can barely tell what is new or old

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Just hurry up and end this construction

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They rebuilt the river fountain with bridge. Bridge aligned with retail entrance. Smart. However, the sidewalk overhang demonstrates the failure of the new lights. Why light up the 2nd floor?

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What is this

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The usable sidewalk space is not that large

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SUDDENLY FROM ABOVE

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Looks very sad without the trees

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Supposedly this lot will be a building soon. Any day now they say.

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The southern intersection is also improved with curb extensions

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Fresno’s Playground

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New midblock crosswalk, with Fulton Mall pavement treatment. 

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A billion new lights and they couldn’t orient one over the mid-block crossing, where IT IS MOST NEEDED? Seriously.

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Looking north is a dead end

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Walking to the end

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New sidewalk extension is large, but very grey. No green infrastructure?

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I can’t tell if they’re adding angled parking, but the turn lane is gone. I guess continental crosswalks were too much for the budget.

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New vs old

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And the end

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And that’s it. Lot’s of photos coming up in the next couple of weeks  – the rest of downtown, Manchester Center update, BRT, and Clovis.

BONUS DROGE BUILDING

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