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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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Downtown revitalization project spurs growth

Will millions of dollars attract more residents?
Downtown+Fresno+view+from+Security+Bank.+
Mallory Friesen
Downtown Fresno view from Security Bank.

Fresno is home to many unique activities that can be enjoyed, including Chaffee Zoo,  popular shopping at Riverpark, events at Chukchansi Stadium, botanical gardens at Woodward Park and the many outdoor activities around local lakes, foothills and mountain communities. Fresno’s Downtown is not currently on most bucket lists to visit. The city hopes to change that in the near future. California’s newest budget grants millions of dollars in state funds for the revitalization of downtown Fresno’s infrastructure. Combined with a previous state grant of $43.7 million, Fresno will have almost $300 million to invest in the heart of the city.  Some are curious to see how the money will be spent and will it be enough to attract more retailers, consumers and community partners.

Fulton Mall was a hub of activity in Fresno, California in 1966. (American Heritage Center)

Currently, the renowned Mural District continues to add new artistic paintings along the Fulton shopping corridor where many restaurants and store fronts welcome visitors daily. This area historically known for it’s architectural buildings is the sight of Fresno’s first proclaimed skyscraper, 10-story Helm building built in 1914. 

What many may not know is that the Mural District of downtown is the largest outdoor public art collection in the entirety of California. Well-known muralist Omar Huerta used his talent to pay tribute to nationally renowned basketball player Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. After his tragic death in 2020, citizens all over Fresno mourned his death. A large crowd gathered downtown and brought flowers and candles to show their love and respect for the basketball legend. Visiting the mural among others was a heart-stirring moment for many people and shows the vibrant nature of the downtown community. 

Another city attraction is Fresno’s ArtHop, which takes place 5-8 p.m. every first and third Thursday in various downtown locations. Started in 1997, this roaming art installation highlights local artists including photographers, sculptors, painters and other creators.

Downtown features several popular thrift stores that draw young people because of their unique offerings. The three most popular stores are Emerald Thrift Store, DAV Thrift Stores and Demon Thrift. Another store that continues to gain popularity is KLSD, a Christian community storefront that sells apparel with positive messaging and hosts events like block parties and book signings. Owner and Fresno Christian Schools mom Alexandra Register loves her spot in the heart of downtown.

“Downtown Fresno is a beautiful place of diversity, art and character aging back generations,” Register said. “I couldn’t be more proud to be a business owner in downtown Fresno as I firmly believe it’s revitalization is so important to our city and its livelhood.”

These attractions are highlights downtown, but may not be enough to draw the large numbers of Fresnans the city is hoping for. As people drive through the streets of downtown, they still notice boarded up vacancies, homeless transients, and forgotten landscaping. From one block to another people can see drastic differences in areas that are unkept or disheveled.

Can millions of dollars provide the upgrades needed to lure the people? City planners and politicians remain hopeful.

New Housing

Mayor Jerry Dyer hopes to increase the residence rate and improve the quality of living with 600 new apartments being added to the current 4,500 residents living in the area. The goal is to have 10,000 citizens living in downtown Fresno – more than double the current number. In the middle of the city’s historic core, roughly 250 acres of land are being used to bolster new housing. 

“Fulton” street named in 1910 developed into a six-block pedestrian mall that has deteriorated over many years.(Mallory Friesen)

Director of Capital Projects Randall Morrison will oversee over 140 new positions with the latest projects department. After working for the city for 19 years, Morrison takes on this new title to help deliver the infrastructure needed to improve buildings and restore community. 

“The primary goal for this revitalization project is to get more people living downtown, and that spurs new developments,” said Morrison. 

City officials have put $250-300 million into new housing for downtown residents, which was enough to attract more retailers and create nightlife, restaurants, and more. 

“The infrastructure is not there to accommodate that many people living downtown,” Morrison said. “Most of the buildings there are for business and governmental use and the housing is just not accessible.”

With the new Fulton Corridor-Specific Plan, the conditions of neighborhoods downtown can be assessed and revitalized. With all the new additions being added to assist new residents, like new water mains and the building of the high-speed railway, it is important to remember the history of our city. Historic buildings downtown can tell us about our region’s past and its story.

A significant part of Fresno’s story is the Chukchansi Stadium. Home to the Fresno Grizzlies baseball team, Chuckchansi has a lot to offer, and $2.3 million worth of new technological upgrades to see. With the brand new 2,000-square-foot video board being added right in the center field, game visuals are clear and enhanced for everyone in the stadium. Also, with new color-changing light emitting diodes (LED lights), and mesmerizing views of downtown’s skyline from every seat, it provides a multi-dimensional experience. As spring ends and summer approaches, the Grizzlies prepare to start the season in their new stadium with a bang.

Chukchansi Park hosts a variety of sporting events throughout the year.

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is a vital part of the story of Fresno as well. After opening in 1929, it became widely known because of its unique home to sea lions and interactive habitats. The new Measure Z project is a capital improvement operation funded by Fresno County. It has raised over $5 million to upgrade the infrastructure supporting the zoo’s habitats and created the new Kingdoms of Asia exhibit with many new endangered species to see. The project has also brought a new dining option for guests in the zoo. The Longvek Marketplace has an Asian-inspired cuisine to go along with the Kingdoms of Asia.

Fresno Chaffee Zoo CEO Jon Dohlin hopes to strengthen the bond between wildlife and people and continue to educate citizens about the world’s diverse and exotic species. 

Over 600 new urban living spaces have been created in downtown Fresno. (Mallory Friesen)

Many Fresno Christian students enjoy the beauty and adventure of the zoo.

“My parents and I made it a tradition to go to the zoo every year, and it is something I always look forward to,” Lily Roberts, ’30, said.

Throughout Fresno’s past, downtown was a place of good business for all Central San Joaquin Valley. As many people converged downtown, so did their profits. They became very successful and made the city a lively destination. As business grew, city leaders wanted to give downtown residents the suburban experience. This led to the making of the nation’s second pedestrian mall on Fulton in 1964. As new buildings were being built and more streets were being widened, the goal was to make downtown like its suburban counterparts, which pulverized its urban center instead of revitalizing it.

Director Morrison hopes people of our region will be open-minded and want to contribute. He talks about how once people start to participate in the evolution of our city, we will start to see revitalization. 

“Citizens should take ownership and participate in the redevelopment,” Morrison said. “Once people want to make it better, that’s when we will see momentum and growth.”

Although the past identity of the Fresno region is important, it is equally relevant to remember that downtown Fresno is also the story of our future. If all citizens can come together as a community and do what it takes to ensure a bright future, downtown can once again become a central hub to our city. 

To read more from The Feather visit: Malala Yousafazi speaks up about women’s education  and Black History Month Spotlight: Shirley Chisholm leads in politics

 

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About the Contributors
Natalya Mananian
Natalya Mananian, Journalist
First-year journalist and videographer, Natalya Mananian, ‘26, is excited to join The Feather. Mananian aims to widen her skill set and foster community through the newspaper. She enjoys playing volleyball and playing music. Natalya is hopeful that by the end of the year, her teamwork and communication skills will broaden and improve. 
Mallory Friesen
Mallory Friesen, Photo Editor
Mallory Friesen returns to The Feather for her second year as a photojournalist hoping to improve her skills. As a ‘lifer’ at Fresno Christian, you can find her on the soccer field or cheer mat. Friesen hopes to attend college and continue her creativity by traveling the world and using her photography skills. 
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