Tag: broadway

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? Click to read more!

A picture review of the latest from GV Urban

So I took these pictures back in May. And this is how long it’s taken me to finally get around to this post… Better late than never right? I hope you enjoy.

I’ll start with the Crichton Place project, built on L and San Joaquin. I last posted about these in January, when they were still wooden frames.These pictures were taken shortly before they opened at the end of June. Obviously, they have landscaping now.

We start off here, not too much to say, aside from the standard too-narrow sidewalk.

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Not my favorite color scheme, but Fresno seems to love it.

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Moving back a second, this is the property off frame in the first photo

I believe GV owns this?

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Across the road, the colors look a little better

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It makes a streetwall, but where are the trees?

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Across the street, unsure what’s going on here

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Spacing between buildings

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I was curious if this beauty would remain…

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A look at their Facebook page reveals that the lighting was indeed replaced with the historic crap.  Why crap? This design shines light into the sky, and into bedrooms, rather than onto the sidewalk and street where it’s needed.

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Installed directly in the way of course

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Ending the block…

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We go around the corner and find the entrance to cars land

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These guys came to see what all the point and shooting was about. I’m thankful that they didn’t actually say anything. They’re well within their right to come and look at me, and I’m glad they were apparently trained to not harass people not on the property. Good job guys.

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Anyway, looking towards the end

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And looking back. Note the change in sidewalk again.

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And across the street.

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Now we head over to 1612 Fulton, which has been done for quite some time, but I last took pictures in June of 2013, also right before it opened. Here’s what a year of activity looks like.

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Somehow the city managed to never stripe a crosswalk here, and actually make the stop line placement worse.

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Good job city.

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Surprised they actually managed to lease retail space

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And the biggest absolute failure in the entire GV Urban catalog

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It was obvious this was going to happen. And the city allowed this crap.

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And this is the alley GV Urban couldn’t be bothered to use for access

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Anyway, moving back to the front, the Fulton frontage is quite nice. Balconies add a cool effect, and look, trees

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Anyway, GV has another project, on Broadway. Back in May it looked like this.

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According to their Facebook page, it now looks like this, and will be called “Brio on Broadway”

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….So that shouldn’t have taken so long to post. But now it’s been posted! Yay.

Broadway streetscape project almost done, results are disappointing

It’s been almost three years since the project was announced, and now the Broadway streetscape project in downtown Fresno is almost done. The plan involved giving Broadway a small road diet, removing a center turn lane and one general lane to add angled parking on each side. The project included absolutely no bicycle accommodations (contrary to the master plan) but did add some amenities for pedestrians in the form of sidewalk extensions at intersections.

Sadly, the project has done many things wrong. The lack of attention to detail shows that Fresno does not have a planner that understands bicycle or pedestrian planning – or even basic ADA. Sort of shocking for a city of half a million. Let’s take a look.

Note: Pics are 2-3 weeks old, sorry for the delay in uploading them!

We start at Broadway and San Joaquin, where the reason behind the angled parking is made clear. GV Urban has broken ground on their latest downtown residential project, and they’re hungry for free parking.

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Their section of sidewalk is the only part that hasn’t been worked on, presumably due to the ongoing construction.

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Here across from the Rainbow Ballroom we see the new angled parking, and removal of two traffic lanes. Sadly, Fresno refused to use back-in angled parking, which is much safer.

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Looking south

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This intersection wasn’t exactly the best place to start. Sadly, there’s no curb extension here. I’m not sure why, but it was like the in the original plan, although a curb cut was removed. As it is now, no corner of this intersection will get a curb extension until GV Urban finishes their corner.

Moving along then, we find what a nicer bit of streetscaping looks like.
New sidewalks, landscaping, and a curb extensions. Also, notice the
drainage grates? This is a little odd, because even though they redid
the entire street, it looks like a retrofit job. I guess it was cheaper.

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However, now we start noticing problems. I mentioned last time how narrow the ramps were. Bare minimum for ADA – why?

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Compare to the width of the crosswalk. Why?

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 The added landscaping is nice, although I wish they had added more trees.

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So narrow. 

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This other intersection shows that vegetation is lacking. Looks like a future garbage collection area.

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And this is how the curb extensions make the crossing distances for pedestrians much shorter.

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For reference, this is how wide the street looked before


Aside from the narrow ramps, we encounter a serious problem.
Major ADA fail here. So you know those yellow rumble strips
(truncated domes)? Their purpose is to inform the blind that they are
exiting the pedestrian area and will be crossing somewhere with
vehicles. A single strip is needed at the edge. Just one.

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seen above, they’ve developed a rumble highway. This doesn’t make
things any easier for the blind, but it DOES make life very difficult
for those in wheelchairs, who must now cross FIVE strips, rather than

Not to mention, it’s a huge waste of money, and again indicates that the Fresno planners have no idea what they’re doing. 

Seriously, wtf?

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Anyway, the new parking is being used by the residents of these apartments. Parking is free and unrestricted. For now, it does provide a benefit as it makes it obvious that people live here.

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As we arrive towards the northern end of the project, things get bad.

At Broadway and Yosemite, they haven’t painted any crosswalks at all. Huh, wasn’t this a pedestrian upgrade?

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Not only does this intersection have zero crosswalks, the new curb extensions explicitly restrict crossing from wheelchair users. This is a problem.

Under California law, an intersection exists where two streets cross. Like here. Also under California law, at every intersection, there are crosswalks where pedestrians have the right of way, marked or not.

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Fresno chose not the mark the crosswalks, but they also went out of their way and put landscaping in the way. What that means, is that people can legally cross – but the disabled cannot. It’s an ADA violation.

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I will email the city, and I guarantee they will get right on it – by putting up signed stating that the crosswalk is closed.

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 It’s 2014, is this kind of work acceptable?

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Walking back south again, we find more ADA issues

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And note that none of the crosswalks have been painted in the continental style. Why? This is the point of view of a driver, look at the crosswalks in the distance, they’re essentially invisible. Van Ness has continental crosswalks, why not Broadway?

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This is nice, glad they kept the existing tree and gave it more room

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Some sections further south have timed parking

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And another fail. No, not the badly striped crosswalks…the arrow.

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What the hell is that? I can’t even find it in the traffic manual. The closest sign is the W16-7P, but that’s a different shape. Is Fresno seriously installing non-compliant signage in a brand new project?

The standard sign for a pedestrian crossing is this, which is what should have been installed.

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More rumble strips at the end of the GV parcel…

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Showing the width of the ramp and the lack of bicycle accommodations

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So in summary:
-Narrow crosswalk ramps
-Incorrectly installed domes
-Zero lighting improvements
-Zero biking infrastructure
-Missing crosswalks
-No continental crosswalk marking
-Poor signage
-ADA violations
-Pull-in parking

+Nice landscaping
+Curb extensions are valuable
Overall, a disappointment. Three years late and they couldn’t even get it right. Maybe in 2060 they’ll take another swing at it.

Bonus GV urban:
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Broadway Streetscape Project Photo Update

I’ve a lot of large posts I want to put together….however these photos I took a couple of weeks ago are getting stale, so I need to finish posting them!

Here’s quick look at the Broadway streetscape project. I took some photos a few weeks earlier, and construction has moved slowly. Mind you, the entire project has moved slowly. Here’s the times I’ve written about it, excluding the above link:

September 2011: Project announced
September 2011: Full details   – Construction scheduled for 2012 (lols)
July 2013: Comparison with LA Broadway streetscape project

And here is what the construction looked like in January of this year:

Windshield perspective, driving south from Divisadero
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Not much going on at this GV Urban project, where we parked to take pictures
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Did a walk around the block. Nothing much of note, except this fun sign
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Returning to Broadway
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Supposedly, this project is to help pedestrians, but there were ZERO ped accommodations for construction. “Sidewalk closed” ….. on all four corners at some intersections.

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Looking north

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Looking south. I was told streets generate commerce and business? And yet one can stand here all day…

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As I said, no temporary accommodation for peds. If you’re in a wheelchair, you’re screwed….and so if Fresno if they get sued.

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 We take a brief detour….this alley needs streetscape improvements

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High speed rail construction is still not underway

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And a frequent topic of conversation on this blog…

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Looking back at Broadway

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Walking north

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I do not believe that this is open weeknights.

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I’m very disappointed with the ramp choice. Look how narrow the walkways are, just the bare minimum. Forget about walking next to someone.

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And as I’ve mentioned before, going with pull-in parking was a huge mistake

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It doesn’t appear that any accommodations for the bus stops are being included? 

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And back to the GV Urban lot

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Hope you all enjoyed the pictures. This project should wrap up soon, and provide plenty of free parking for those using the Rainbow Ballroom.

Bonus: I was asked about the First 5 Fresno construction by the library. Taken the same day.

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Downtown Update: Peeve’s, Broadway, Fulton Mall

I did some rounds downtown this week, and took some (but not enough) pictures. I decided to combine them into one update.

Peeve’s Public House, the successor to the Fresno Brewing Company on the Fulton Mall had their grand opening for a small market which sells only local goods. There’s a good selection of items, and prices range from attractive to ludicrous.

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The bar area hasn’t changed much from the FBC days, although they have a larger menu of drinks. Hooray for cider on tap. On the other hand, their non-alcoholic drink menu (coffees, teas) has shrunk.

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Outside, they’ve decorated their tree. In the past, I’ve said that the Downtown Fresno Partnership” should do more to make the mall a holiday destination, especially by investing in lighting. It’s a shame that they’ve done no such thing – there’s nothing festive about the mall.

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Ok, not exactly nothing, theres a nice light display on the tallest building.

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The building sits across from the ice skating rink, which this year is again a huge success. Even after 9pm, there were many people.

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A couple of tourists near Peeve’s asked me if I knew anywhere in the area that sold hot chocolate  – the pub didn’t. I suggested the rink, but it wasn’t the case. Come on Downtown Fresno people, ice skating 101 – you sell hot chocolate.

Speaking of hot chocolate, this caught my eye – a new cafe coming to the mall. Shame it wasn’t open for the rink.

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Meanwhile, a block over (and pictures taken on another day obviously). the Broadway streetscape project is FINALLY under construction. It’s been well over two years since the project was announced. Sadly, the project will include no bike lanes or back-in parking. Meanwhile, San Francisco has announced a project that includes both – with the bike lane being protected from traffic.

San Francisco design:

And what construction looks like on Broadway:

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While the project is meant to help pedestrians, by reducing crossing distances at intersections, in typical Fresno fashion no accommodations have been made during construction. Suddenly, the sidewalk ends at a sign, and one is forced to deal with it. An easy ADA lawsuit that Fresno would lose.

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Finally, while I didn’t take a picture, there’s been no construction movement on the GV Urban property on Broadway.

Merry Christmas!

Add “short driver” to the list of excusable reasons when a pedestrian is killed

Once upon a time, “I didn’t see him” was not an excuse. The rule was, if you hit something or someone, you were “driving too fast for the conditions,” or “not exercising due caution.” Most cops, it seems, have forgotten the rule, and take “I didn’t see him!” as a perfectly valid excuse. Fresno PD seems to have recently expanded that leniency in the death of a pedestrian this week in Fresno:

Officers also determined it would have been impossible for the driver
to see the pedestrian because of the driver’s short stature and seating
position. The driver faces no charges.
Fresno Bee

Does the driver not deserve blame for failing to adjust their seat properly? Perhaps an inquiry as to why someone who can’t see the road is driving in the first place? Of course not. It’s not their fault they were dealt a short deck, and driving is a right after all.

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Apparently legal now

Did I mentioned the driver was maneuvering a Fed-ex big rig? I guess being a commercial driver of an enormous truck does not obligate one to be able to see the road…. or feel a collision.

The driver of the rig had no idea he had struck and seriously injured the pedestrian, Fresno police said Tuesday.

If you can run someone over in downtown Fresno, and not even notice, something is wrong.The driver failed in adapting to an urban environment. Fed-ex failed in assigning this person to a large truck, and the state licensing system failed in giving them a commercial license without restrictions.

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It turns out, the “gangsta lean” is a sophisticated method to waive liability in a collision

According to a witness, the pedestrian was at fault because the truck had a green light. Based on the investigation being concluded in under 24-hours, it seems as if the police department have taken the word of the witness as fact. I’d bet a large pile of money that no video evidence was obtained, or even searched for. Never-mind an investigation into speed and cellphone use.

Now to be fair, this specific part of town is home to many transient individuals who do occasionally have a habit of randomly wandering into the road. I once had quite the scare when I encountered a homeless lady standing in the middle of a lane, in pitch darkness. Of course in my case, as it was so dark, I was driving at a speed which allowed me to come to a complete stop without hitting her. Novel concept, I know.

In this case, the collision happened around noon, so visibility wasn’t a factor. And even if the pedestrian did step into the road without the light, the driver should have seen him coming.

This is what the driver would have seen, approaching the light. Any pedestrian would be clearly visible well in advance of entering the roadway. To not only be unable to see a pedestrian AND not notice the collision is highly troublesome.

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 On the plus side, the Bee reported this as a collision, and not an accident.That’s progress.

 Meanwhile, on Sunday, just 15 miles away…

A pedestrian was killed Sunday evening after a GMC Suburban
hit the man while he was crossing at an intersection in Selma, police

The victim, believed to be in his mid-30s, was walking north
crossing the intersection of 2nd and Sylvia streets about 5:20 p.m.
when the woman driving the Suburban fatally struck him, Selma police
Sgt. Terry Reid said. The woman stopped and has not been cited, Reid
Fresno Bee Click to read more!

A look at the GV Urban Broadway property

I’ve been pretty busy lately, not posting nearly as much as I’d like. I’ve been sitting on some pictures I took of the next big GV Urban project for over a month now, and I figured I’d sort of dump them now before they get too old.

Here’s my article about this specific project.Of course, this is the project that will benefit from the Broadway streetscape, eh, parking, project.

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.

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The house will be preserved and restored.

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Parking will be added here.

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Across the street….I guess this is sort of part of the mural district?

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Closer look at the house

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I hope the trees aren’t destroyed

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Sidewalk needs some work

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….and that’s it!

Bonus: High Speed Rail will go here. With all this empty space, why are they moving the freeway?

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What Fresno can learn from LA: Broadway Street Project

A couple of weeks ago I posted about Los Angeles’s new pedestrian czar, a position Fresno really needs to add. Well, that’s not the only thing Fresno can mimic from LA.

Los Angeles and Fresno both share a street downtown with the same name: Broadway. Both have/had theater activity, and were once bustling centers of activity. Today, Broadway in LA is still full of merchants, but almost all are low rent. Almost every theater is shuttered. Fresno’s Broadway is in worse shape – most buildings have simply been demolished. Of course, there are some bright spots, like the Rainbow Ballroom and the Crest, and even some new projects in the work, such as a large residential development.

LA’s Broadway remains densely urban, but is far from high end
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A legacy of demolitions has left Fresno’s Broadway very empty.
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One could play a pickup game of soccer in the street, traffic is so rare. 

Another similarity is that both cities have major roadway projects in the work for their Broadway.

LA is excited about their big redo, so much that they even have a website for it. Unlike Fresno, which is trying to add car lanes downtown (Fulton Mall), LA is planning to take some away.

Phase 1 will reconfigure Broadway from 4 traffic lanes to 3 traffic
lanes between 2nd Street and 11th Street. LADOT will implement the Dress
Rehearsal, using pavement treatments and physical indicators to
delineate publicly accessible space within the roadway. These
semi-permanent treatments leave flexibility to update configurations
before the cost of a full construction build-out is undertaken if
modifications are desired and necessary. Click to read more!

Next GV Urban project revealed

Earlier this year, GV Urban proposed their newest residential project downtown, around the site of the former Met museum. This week they go before the planning commission with their next project, this time on Broadway.

The company has focused almost exclusively on Fulton, so it’s nice to see them branch out a block over to Broadway, which has been neglected. For those not familiar with the area, Fulton is the main street, and has Broadway on one side and Van Ness on the other as other major streets in the area. Today, Broadway is mostly auto-focused businesses, and most of them are closed.

Here’s a map of the project area.

Red square: New project
Green square: Buildings being knocked down for park
GV1:  Fulton Village
GV2: 1612 Fulton (under construction)
GV3: Proposed Met plan
R: Rainbow Ballroom

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The entire area is quickly being dominated by GV. It’s great to see that they keep adding new projects, which means there’s been sufficient demand for their old projects. One downside is that they’ve been the recipient of plenty of corporate welfare. While other cities might require GV set aside some space for a park, in Fresno, the city is buying up existing properties and knocking them down to build one for the company. While other cities require developers to fund infrastructure, in Fresno the city is reaching into TOD funds to improve the alleys for GV.

Is the end result worth it? While it’s certainly great to see all this construction, I sometimes feel the city is giving in a little too much. On the other hand, no other company has stepped up to build residential units downtown.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the plan.

As you can see from the above map, the parcel has two empty halves, with a historic home in the middle. The right side of the property used to be an abandoned business – which the city knocked down on their dime.

 The plan is to build apartments in the empty lots, and restore the existing home. The historic home will have something I’ve been saying GV has been lacking for years: Amenities for their residents!

You see, every north Fresno apartment offers pools, saunas, party rooms, lounges, etc etc. GV charges higher rents, tries to convince people to take a risk downtown, but offers no amenities. Looks like they’re finally trying to fix it. The first floor of the home will offer a billiard table, a lounge area and a community kitchen. The second floor with be for the on-site manager. No pool, but it’s a start.

As for the new construction….it’s exactly the same as Fulton Village and 1612 Fulton. Multiple three story buildings, two units per building. Balconies, but flat surfaces and identical designs.

I wish they’d add some flair. Their first project, the Iron Bird Lofts had some great design features. Since then, it’s been cookie cutter molds. How about some different roof designs? A decorative 6 foot addition? Anything?

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Notice how the existing home adds to the project by not making it so uniform. Why not add a sloped roof to one of the new buildings?

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The site plan. 

It looks like the rear units actually require use of the alley….a first for the company?

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Note the diagonal parking configuration on Broadway. That’s part of the new street-scape project I talked about way back in 2011. Supposedly, it’s going to happen this summer or fall. Now I sort of understand why they decided to remove the promised bike lanes and build angled parking – it’s what GV urban wants. Fulton Street also has angled parking and no bike lanes. I guess what GV urban wants, they get, even if it contradicts the bike master plan.

The street-scape project has not been modified since I posted about it over a year ago. I asked why they’re not using back-in parking, and was told it was because that didn’t exist in California…

Except that San Francisco is putting it in. Back-in parking is many times safer for cyclists because cars aren’t backing into the street blindly.

Also disappointing, it appears that the left corner will get a fake, painted bulbout and not a real concrete one (compare red arrow with green arrow).

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Considering streets like this are redone only once every 50 years at best, it’s a shame to lock in a poor design for so long.

I’m excited to see this project go through, but like most GV Urban projects, it has its fair share of faults, mostly thanks to value engineering. Expect to see it pop up in 2014.

You can see the entire planning commission document here (warning, large PDF).

More on Broadway redesign (Fresno)

Last week I mentioned that the city will be holding a meeting on Thursday to discuss major changes on Broadway, downtown. =&0=&

As I will not be able to attend, I emailed the city, and they were kind enough to send along a diagram of the proposed changes.

I was correct that the project will end at Divisadero, so the project length is indeed the following.

I was wrong about what I guessed the layout would be. I had guessed it would be angled parking on one side, and parallel parking on the other. Instead, the city is proposing to make parking angled on both sides.


One concern this brings up is that the proposed bike lanes on Broadway no longer fit with angled parking on each side.

The travel lane will be 13.5 feet each way, which is not enough to fit both a car and a bike at the same time.

I was correct in assuming they would propose angled parking in which you drive into. I have emailed the city to let them know they should consider back-in parking, which is safer.

I also hope the city reconsiders having angled parking on both sides and returns to the bike plan.

The diagram shows a width of 60 feet +/- a foot or so.
Currently, the street is designed like this (guesstimate):

10.5 + 10.5 + 10.5 = 31.5 in three travel lanes (two south, one north)
10.5 = center turning lane
9 + 9 = 18 for parking lanes
For a total of 60.

(parking is not separated with a line, so in reality it’s a 19.5-20 foot travel lane that allows parking)

The proposal wants to change that to be:

13.5 + 13.5 = 27 Travel lanes
17 + 17 = 34 Parking lanes
For a total of 61.

This design wastes space. A travel lane needs only to be 10 feet wide, but the angled parking requires that extra buffer….which isnt enough for a bike lane. So each direction will have 3.5 feet in wasted space. It will also make riding a bike more dangerous, because both cyclists and motorists may perceive the lane as wide enough to share, when it will not be.

I would change it to the following:

10.5 + 10.5 = 21 for travel lanes
17 = Angled parking southbound + 8.5 = Parallel parking northbound = 25.5 for parking

That uses up 46.5 feet.
That leaves 13.5 feet available.

That’s easy to divide.

Add a 6 foot bike lane on the southbound side, plus a 1.5 foot buffer for the angled parking for 7.5 feet of bike/buffer lane.

That leaves 6 feet for a bike lane next to the parallel parking on the northbound side, for a total use of 60 feet.


Ok, my paint job isn’t to scale, but the numbers add up to 60 right? That’s all that matters.

Also not shown is my preferred back-in parking, just switch the direction of the parking lines. That doesnt add or reduce the required space.

Some of my other concerns were addressed with the plan they sent me. I want crosswalks on every street, and the redesign moves towards that, but isn’t perfect. Amador goes from zero to 4 marked crosswalks for example. Sacramento also gets four, up from two. In fact four crosswalks are added to every intersection except San Joaquin. I hope they reconsider and also give it the full treatment. On the north end, I’d like to see a crosswalk to N Yosemite, which is part of a natural walking pattern (see picture below).

Here are the images they sent. Its’ interesting that they used a satellite image that’s almost a decade old. Lots has changed in the area since then.

Note: North is to the LEFT.

Here is the north end of the project. That odd curving street no longer exists. The new curb extensions are visible.


A crosswalk should be added so a pedestrian can take the natural yellow route comfortably, and not the longer red route.


Further down we get where the lofts are. The residents will enjoy the new curb extensions and the added guest parking.


As we move along, we pass the Rainbow Ballroom (far right in above image). No angled parking in front because the concert tour trucks need the curb space.

However, we do have an opportunity here. Angled parking extends out 17 feet, while the largest of tour buses, parked parallel to the curb, needs only 12 feet. That leaves us with 5 extra feet. How about widening the sidewalk so that the concert crowds have more room to breathe? Currently, the line to get in takes up the entire sidewalk, and at the end of the event, people are pushed into the road.

Here I show the Rainbow Ballroom in a lovely rainbow color (it’s actually not a gay club though). I’ve turned the parking to be the back-in kind (the northbound parking would be the parallel type under my proposal, not shown). I’ve expanded the sidewalk by 5 feet (cream color), and I’ve left space along the curb for loading/unloading of buses while preserving the full lane and proposed bike lane (green curb painting).


On this next image, I’m interested in the “future development” marked in green. What makes this parcel more likely for development than the rest?

San Joaquin street should have 4 crosswalks.


As we reach the end of the project we note that various useless curb cuts (driveways) will be removed, creating a smoother walking experience.


Overall, I think this is a good project, and should make Broadway better for drivers and pedestrians. That being said, it’s not perfect, and I think the city can add bike lanes while still increasing the amount of street parking and lowering crossing distances for pedestrians.

That concludes the project tour. These are the questions I emailed the project team but have yet to hear a reply. If anyone reading this blog attends the meeting tomorrow, I would like to know if any of these thoughts were addressed.

A few of them I mentioned above. These are the questions I sent the city:

-Has the city looked into using angled parking in which drivers back into the spots? This is safer because when leaving, the driver is not blindly backing up into traffic (if there is a larger vehicle next to them) but is positioned where they can easily see the street. Back-in parking is becoming popular on the east coast do to the safety benefits it provides, although it does have a small learning curve.

-San Jose/Broadway should have crosswalks on all 4 legs.

-I’d like to see a crosswalk across Broadway at El Dorado/Yosemite street, for easier access to Divisadero from the west side of Broadway.

-I wonder if the angled parking will be metered or time restricted (or both)

And finally, is construction scheduled for this year or 2012?