About a mile north of downtown Fresno, at the intersection of Blackstone and McKinley, a really exciting project is well underway: Fresno’s first transit-oriented apartment building. Aside from looking impressive in person, I think this is the first time in Fresno history that a real apartment building is being constructed outside the downtown core. And by “real,” I mean as one urban unit. There are apartments all over Fresno, but they tend to be two-story, 2 or 4 unit blocks built among an oasis of parking and grass. Those are perfectly fine, but they’re suburban in nature. This building will have four floors, which will make it twice as tall as 98% of Fresno buildings.
The plan involved keeping the Met (top corner) and restoring the only other building left standing, on the left.
Problem was, the plan sucked. GV Urban proposed sticking in the exact same template they’ve built five other times downtown, but this time with a hideous façade.
For quite possibly the first time ever, the city pushed back against GV Urban. Aside from the ugly façade, the city was concerned that such a prominent block should break GV’s 3-story barrier, as to match the height of the Met.
So the project went quiet for over a year, at least in the public eye.
Two weeks ago, the Downtown Fresno Blog posted that work had begun, and included this picture:
That caught me off guard. I had expected to see a new proposal go through the planning board…
And indeed one had, back in May (massive PDF). Looks like I missed that meeting.
So what changed?
Almost nothing. Looks like GV Urban gets their way, again. The site plan is almost identical to what was presented in 2013. That plan included destroying a public park to replace it with private parking and an indoor courtyard. Classic Fresno. The public alley will also be privatized.
The diagram above is from last year, but is easier to see than the updated version, which to my eyes, is identical. It includes:
12 two-story triplex buildings
4 three-story fiveplex buildings
3 three-story mixed use
Total = 85 units
As for the concern about heights? Not addressed. The buildings still top out at 3 stories, except now it looks just a wee bit taller, thanks to slightly more pitch on the roofs. And the hideous façade? Well, it sort of appears slightly less terrible.
I’m assuming Granville pulled the “you let us do what we want or you get nothing at all” card and the city caved.
While it’s great to see another 100+ people moving downtown, it’s a shame they’re doing so in such a mediocre project, especially on such a significant block.
On the plus side, the construction is so cheap that no developer will hesitate to knock it down in 20 years to build something better.
On a completely different subject…
In May I also missed Brandau killing yet another road diet project, while voting yes on every road widening and traffic signal project possible.
Fortunately, my concern was misplaced. Construction is well underway and the building is looking quite nice. I have some photo updates coming up for other downtown developments, and I will be starting here because I am excited about this building the most.
Aside from looking quite nice so far, the corner is prominent. Many people who rarely venture downtown use the spiral garage to go to stadium events. That means their first impression has gone from a building falling apart, to urban renewal. Helps shake away the “nobody goes downtown” reputation if a nice looking apartment building with lights on sits across the street.
The project is at Van Ness and Inyo.
The construction is immediately obvious next to the iconic parking garage. Even better: It’s not dwarfed by the parking.
You immediately notice that unlike the GV Urban projects, this one is four stories. The difference between 3 and 4 may seem small, but from the street, it makes a world of difference. Especially at a corner. I’m excited to see the additional architectural element on top.
The building is also not flat, which gives it a lot of texture
The parcel is large enough that a courtyard exists in the middle, to provide everyone with light. This also helps the walking experience.
Like the GV projects, no improvements are being made to the alley. However, unlike those which include nasty driveways, here the few cars that will be parked in the building will enter through the alley. Additional parking will be possible in the underused garage next door.
From here, it even seems larger than the garage!
The building extends right to the sidewalk. This might not be great if trees don’t fit.
Also like the GV projects, zero accommodations were made for pedestrians during construction.
Next door, what has been many restaurants. Right now, it’s closed again. Maybe the added activity and visibility will make a restaurant here profitable?
And here’s what it should look like before the end of the year!
It’s in the red rectangle.
There was some preliminary activity. Again, these pictures are over a month old, so I assume there’s been some dirt moving.
The house will be preserved and restored.
Parking will be added here.
Across the street….I guess this is sort of part of the mural district?
Closer look at the house
I hope the trees aren’t destroyed
Sidewalk needs some work
….and that’s it!
Bonus: High Speed Rail will go here. With all this empty space, why are they moving the freeway?