Tag: fulton

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!

A Final Look at Construction on Fresno’s New Fake BRT Line “Q”

Fresno’s new fake “BRT” (bus rapid transit) line, branded as “Q” is set to open Fall of 2017. Well, that’s what the website says.

Key Dates
Construction Kickoff: June 2016
Construction: 2016-2017
Testing: 2017
Launch: Fall 2017

In reality, the bus line was delayed yet again to February or March of this year (originally, it was expected way back in 2012).

And this time they really mean it, so they’re hosting public meetings to educate people on what the bus line is. The first one is this week:

Shaw & Blackstone Corridor
January 17, 2018 | 5:30 pm–7:00 pm
5080 N Blackstone Ave
Fresno, CA 93710 

Quick aside: This is a complete failure of public outreach and engagement. Asking people to come to YOU, on a certain date, at a certain time is public outreach in name only. FAX knows where the customers are (on the bus and at the stations). FAX should come to the people. Nobody is going to take time and money out of their day to go to a random location to hear some official talk about a kiosk. Worse: The three meetings are in the same time period (5:30pm-7pm) so anyone who works during those hours is out of luck.

Depressing. I recently read about a city which launched a new bus service and advertised it by mailing info to every house within 1/4 mile of the route. That’s outreach.

Also, at some point they should maybe tell the public how this will affect the two existing bus lines that currently run on Blackstone and Kings Canyon. I’ve yet to see any information about that.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the construction shortly before the new line opens. This post looks at a regular stop in Blackstone, the Manchester Transfer Center, and the Van Ness stop by the Courthouse Transfer Station.

Previous updates:
September 2017
January 2017

We start at a random bus stop on Blackstone and Clinton. This location previously had a regular bus stop, shelter, and bench.

Like all the Q bus stops, the sidewalk was pushed out into the roadway. This is because the stations require extra space, and because it means the bus doesn’t have to pull out of traffic. Pulling out slows the bus because drivers don’t let the bus merge back in.

Oddly enough, this stop already had a shelter and bench, so the sidewalk was already wider. They actually REMOVED sidewalk in this process….why?

You can see the sidewalk to the left is all even, rather than extending back a bit towards the store. This actually causes the “newly widened” sidewalk to have a narrow pinch point. Couldn’t those electrical boxes be kept in the back?


On the other end, the sidewalk extension doesn’t go all the way to the corner. Why?


Here’s looking north.


And with a bus that didn’t stop.


Some people have worried that extending the stop out has made the lane too narrow. Nope. Look at the blue car in relation to the width of the lane. The sidewalk could have been extended another 5 feet or more.


The stops have bicycle racks.


Garbage cans.


A semi-transparent roof. I don’t know what’s up there.


This stop was not fortunate enough to get seating with back support.The stop previously had two benches, so this is actually a downgrade.


There are now ticket machines.



They take credit cards


Everything is in English and Spanish.

….except the “language” button. Really. Oddly, “Cards” is in white text in English, while all the other English is in black text.


The map is still locked away


The (unnecessarily large) electrical box is to support the kiosk and also a time estimate, although I didn’t notice a screen.


And one last look.


Now we move to the Manchester Center Transfer Center. This place closed a year ago. When I visited in August, I was shocked at how little progress had been made at what is the busiest bus stop in Fresno.

Four months later, it’s not looking much better.


A year of construction and they couldn’t even level the place.



For reference, this is what the old shelters looked like




A lot of FAX buses will stop here. The stop at the end is for Q.


Very similar to the previous stop we looked at.


The ticket kiosk and map.


But two benches, one with back support, one without.


This trash can is open for business.


There are bike racks, but they were installed incorrectly. They should be rotated 90 degrees, or else you can only lock 4 bikes rather than 6.


Note the location of the push button. This is a good installation. The location we’ll look at downtown was installed badly.


The Blackstone crosswalk. This was built brand new in 2016…and then never opened. They ripped it all up and built it again. Your Fresno money at work. (Although the newer design is much better). However, the push button is not well located.


(The pedestrian crossing is functional, I pushed the button and it quickly changed)




From the parking lot.


And now we go downtown to the Courthouse Transfer Center on Van Ness.

Q will stop at island platform, the other routes along the courthouse park like always.


Same design here as the other stops.



Except this one has a longer roof than the random stop on Blackstone. Only one bench though.


Other direction



New crosswalks built to the islands at a new signal. Remember earlier how I called out the push button? These are badly installed because they are relatively out of the way.



One thing they did do well is install the vehicle detection. See the circle and lines in the pavement? That’s how the traffic signal knows a bus is waiting. A bus can stop behind the white line, load, and then when ready to cross, move forward to trigger the traffic signal. (As long as the drivers are told to do this).


The angle of the red/green arrows is a novelty in Fresno. But the signal on the far left is a waste of money.


The other shelters in the transfer center were updated. I think the design is pretty cool, but I love Art Deco.



For reference this is what the old ones looked like. They were horrendously ugly, but they provided a lot more cover.

Is it too much to ask for the shelters to be both attractive and large?


That’s it for the Fresno FAX Q update!

Service is supposed to start soon, and hopefully it improved the lives of those using the bus system to get around. Faster boarding will speed up trips, and buses every 10 minutes (during peak hours) will be well used.

Shame it took a decade to built what many other cities call “standard bus service.”

My next post will be a look at construction inside the Manchester Center Mall. The new food hall was supposed to open this winter, will it? (Hint: No).

Two new public electric vehicle charging stations open in Fresno

Two months ago, I decided to look back at the state of public electric charging infrastructure for electric cars in Fresno. Sadly, the situation was still very dire.

Fortunately, there has been some news on that front. Chargers have arrived at Fresno State and Downtown:

Fresno State is planning to give electric car drivers more
options to “charge up” under plans announced Friday to build a six-stall
charging station on campus.

University officials say the station
located west of Save Mart Center will have two quick-charge pumps — a
car’s battery could recharge in 20 to 30 minutes — plus four more for
longer charges. It’s being paid for through a $397,000 grant from the
California Energy Commission.

The university’s station is scheduled to open in September 2015.
Electric car drivers can currently power up at just a few public
locations, including the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control
District office, Schneider Electric, and Lithia Nissan on Blackstone
Fresno Bee Click to read more!

Fresno might get its first protected cycle track!

I’ve been angrily hammering away on an article about the proposed Smart and Final project, but fortunately I found something in this weeks City Council Agenda that has temporarily soothed my nerves: =&0=& and the preparation of a feasibility study for a Class I bicycle trail along the Herndon Canal and Mill Ditch canal banks and to authorize the Public Works Director or designee to sign and execute the standardized agreement on behalf of the City (Council District 1, 3 ,4 and 7)=&1=&

Work underway at GV Urban’s Met Block development

Way back in February of 2013, GV Urban went before the city with their newest apartment proposal. The plan involved building up the Met Block, named after the old Met Museum. The block is between Van Ness and Fulton, and between Calaveras and Stanislaus.

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.

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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:

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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.

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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. 

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.

Groundbreaking for new downtown apartment building this weekend

This project has flown under my radar. It’s called “South Tower” and will be on Fulton, just north of the 180 freeway.

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TFS Investments will be putting up this new building directly across from another property they own. It’s going to be in the art deco style which is really interesting, because it respects the architecture of the area, and is something you rarely see going up these days.

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The building will replace what used to be some badly run-down home, and pop up the density of the area.

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I wish it was a floor or two higher, but it’s still great for the neighborhood – and great to show that GV Urban isn’t the only game in town when it comes to downtown residential.

The Business Journal has the news:

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new South Tower residential project
south of the Tower District is planned for 10:30 a.m. Friday at 541 N.
Fulton St. in Fresno. An 11 a.m. coffee reception will follow.

The $4.5-million venture is headed by TFS Investments, which serves
as the owner and developer. Marvin Armstrong, Architect designed the
building, which will feature 32 apartments and eight live-work units.

The two-story building will span 230,000 square feet and feature an art-deco-inspired style. It will stand across the street from TFS Investments’ two-story
Fultonia apartment complex. South Tower was originally called Fultonia
West, but the builder decided to change to a more recognizable name.

Rents at the complex will range from $575 to $900 monthly. The units range from 700 square feet to 900 square feet. Click to read more!

A picture review of 1612 Fulton

Last week, GV Urban held the grand opening of their newest residential project, 1612 Fulton, on the corner of Fulton and San Joaquin. I’ve been meaning to write about this place for a few months now, but it keeps slipping away…. Basically, when the project was announced, it included one section of street-wall which was to become the biggest turd built downtown in decades. The Fulton St section looks good, but the section on San Joaquin is abysmal.

While I didn’t attend the opening ceremony, I did drop by a week or so before hand to take pictures, so here they are. By the way, to the GV Urban employed gentleman that oh so subtly followed me in his car during my entire visit….creeping people out is not the proper way to get people to sign leases with you.

As the buildings weren’t open yet, I don’t have interior pictures, but you can see some at their facebook page.

1612 Fulton is essentially a clone of Fulton Village a block away, so much so that a local architect has complained that work he did on the village project was reused without permission or payment. I was initially concerned that GV urban was doing the same thing they do in the suburbs, where the drop the same exact model in over and over again.

Fortunately, the slight aesthetic changes made to the exterior were enough so that the project doesn’t look like a clone. Paint goes a long way.

1612 on right, Fulton Village a block away on the left
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The project is directly next to another GV urban building, where they rent out office/artist space.
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One concern I have about the project is the width of the sidewalks. The area is one the city supposedly wants to make walkable, and the company supposedly wants residents to walk to the nearby art galleries and commercial spaces they rent out. Sadly, instead of dedicating more space to sidewalks, they’ve made changes to narrow them. The end result is that it’s difficult to walk side-by side with someone. Not impossible or anything, just narrow so that you bump elbows enough to be awkward – remember, the added trees lessen your horizontal space.

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The use of green space isn’t a problem – it’s great to filter rainwater. However, they should have moved their buildings back to allow a better sidewalk.

It’s also clear the pedestrian experience plays no part in their plans. Even a week before opening, when all the construction was done, short of minor landscaping, the sidewalk remained closed, as it had been for about a year. There is no reason to block off a sidewalk for such a long period of time.

Looking south, with the project on the left, you can see some commercial buildings on the right (by the two trees). GV Urban is having the city destroy those (leased) commercial buildings so they can have themselves a park. I have pictures of that at the end.

Incidentally, you can notice the lack of traffic in the area. All pictures taken on a weekday afternoon. The developer also supports the city plan to destroy the Fulton Mall and allow cars to drive by. As these pictures show, having asphalt doesn’t mean hoards of shoppers will descend on your street. 

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Like their other projects, the building is actually not one, but many buildings separated by small spaces. This allows more windows and more privacy than from a typical apartment block. I believe this pathway was fenced off after I took these images.

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Walkway to interior units, parking. They put up a fence limiting access to residents, as they’ve done in all their other projects.

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Units front the street

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You can notice again the narrow sidewalk. I am a fan of the balconies overhanging the front though.

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GV Urban doesn’t ever want to raise a finger to improve infrastructure. Sadly, these dreadfully ugly streetlights were kept. Worst still, the poor design means the new residents will get bright lights shining directly into their bedrooms, while the street below stays in relative darkness. Fortunately for them, it appears the glass hasn’t been cleaned in decades, so the light shining in shouldn’t be TOO bright.

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Looking south again, hello moon!

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The sidewalk does expand at the corner, where I believe it’s a live/work apartment

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Fortunately they built two curb ramps. Not aligned for the blind, but an improvement.

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As we leave Fulton, and turn the corner….tragedy. Ok, that’s a strong word, but this is NOT something that should ever be built in a downtown area.

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Parking entrance. Driveway. Driveway. Driveway. Alley. Probably the worst street-wall downtown, and it’s brand new.

The entrance to the interior parking

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And driveways. This section of street used to have a dozen mature trees too.

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Earlier I mentioned that the sidewalk should never be closed for such a long period. It sends entire families out into the street. No temporary crosswalks were ever built. Luckily, traffic is non-existent. Note the alley on the immediate left.

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But what’s even worse, is that they made the sidewalk the absolute minimum width legally allowed.

This image shows the existing sidewalk, and then the area they left. The section on the left, in red, is not passable due to tree planting. The area on the right, in yellow, is sloped for car access. That’s clearer in the second picture.

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I guarantee residents will park in “their driveway” and block the meager sidewalk.

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What’s worse is that this didn’t have to happen. The company insisted it was the only way to fit in the amount of units they needed to make the project worthwhile.

False. They could have had the same amount of units, if only they’d used the alley which is right there. Instead, they walled it off. Remember how I said GV Urban doesn’t spend money on infrastructure? Heavens forbid they pave a small section of the alley to use as an entrance…

What they built

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What they could have built, same amount of units and parking, but use of alley. A wider sidewalk, too.

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Instead, here’s the alley

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 And what the inside looks like

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This post is getting too long, click to continue.

The alley is in bad condition. For most projects, the city requires developers to chip in to improve existing infrastructure. Not in this case.

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These access points will never be used of course. probably just for fire safety reasons.

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Looking the opposite way

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Around the next corner, these units have lovely views of nothing

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The inside

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And back to where we started.

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So is the project good for downtown? Yes, it’s great to see more residential, but with each project, GV urban seems to be getting lazier and greedier. Iron Bird was fantastic. Fulton Village was a step down, and now 1612, with the driveway section, was a big mistake. The front is fine, but again, no art like Iron Bird, sidewalks that are too narrow, and poor lighting.

Meanwhile, as a bonus, here are the buildings across the street that will be demolished to give the developer a park. Unlike the retail space at Fulton Village, these actually have tenants.

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Hope you enjoyed the tour.

Comment on newest GV Urban proposal

GV Urban is the subsidiary of Granville Homes which has brought us the only residential development downtown has seen in decades. You know them from the Iron Bird Lofts, Fulton Village, Van Ness Cottages and a few others.

This past week they announced their newest project, which involves the Met block.

The site is home to the former museum, an abandoned commercial building (which GV owns and plans on restoring), a public park, and empty space in what used to be two buildings – the city knocked those down for free.

The block now

The block previously

GV plans to keep the Met and the other existing building, and erect residential structures around them. The public park would be taken away and replaced by a private green accessible only to residents.

As great as it is to see further residential development downtown, the project is far from inspired. The actual buildings would be the very same ones erected twice now on Fulton, but with a new facade – one which comes off as tacky in the rendering. The height wouldn’t match the Met, and the circulation plan includes two driveways on Calaveras. The sidewalk looks small and offers no interaction but a dead wall.


As per all their other projects, all the parking would be on the ground level and in a central surface lot – no underground or structured parking. In fact by area, the majority of the site would be devoted to parking.

I’ll be doing a deeper analysis into the problem of the site plan, but for now, I recommend leaving them a comment, either through their Facebook page or their website.

Tell them you welcome their development, but that Fresno deserves something we can be proud of for fifty years. Such a prime block should see excellent architecture, fantastic pedestrian accommodations and welcoming public amenities. 

Opposing the current plan doesn’t mean opposing development, it means striving for something better. We shouldn’t settle for something sub-par because of the fear that any objection will lead to GV abandoning downtown.