Fresno reconnects & revitalizes a main street that became a pedestrian mall

The City of Fresno is the cultural and economic center of California’s San Joaquin Valley, and home to over 500,000 residents. Fresno has the fifth highest concentration of poverty in the nation, and Downtown Fresno faces several challenges, including private disinvestment, underperforming commerce, high vacancy rates, and diminished city funding for maintenance.

However, Fresno is also poised to capitalize on several timely and unique opportunities including Mayor Swearengin’s prioritization of the revitalization of Fulton Mall, the former main street turned into a pedestrian mall in 1964. It was designed by famed architect Victor Gruen and landscape architect Garrett Eckbo, and is the site of central California’s greatest density of historic buildings as well as the future location of a high-speed rail station, just two blocks west of Fulton Mall, to connect Fresno to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Fresno’s designation as a White House Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative recipient along with several City-driven planning processes currently underway, including a General Plan update, the Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan, and the Fulton Corridor Specific Plan, have all contributed to the city’s promising development.

The City of Fresno’s Downtown and Community Revitalization Division, Public Works Department, Sevak Khatchadourian, a private developer and building owner on Mariposa Plaza, and Fresno County Economic Development Commission formed a public-private partnership and were selected by AAF to receive technical assistance for Mariposa Corridor at the 8th session of AAF’s Sustainable Cities Design Academy in San Francisco. Mariposa Corridor is the primary connector for Downtown Fresno’s future high-speed rail station and the historic Fulton Mall, Fresno’s “Main Street,” and Fresno City and County’s civic center.

While the Corridor links many significant public zones in Fresno, its deteriorated and poorly designed infrastructure and vacant buildings need significant rehabilitation to revitalize Downtown Fresno to attract and retain economic development activity that could be supported by high-speed rail and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems

Leveraging SCDA participation and the SC2 Fellows’ presence, the City continues to seek funding for Mariposa Corridor improvements. With those funds, the City will start comprehensive landscape planning and construction for the Mall’s further revitalization.

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