Great Planning & Design
Careful design and land use are critical elements of successful downtown revitalization. Design policies that are not oriented toward pedestrian-friendliness, the restoration and use of vacant historic buildings, a high-density mix of uses, and 24-hour activity can do more to harm revitalization than help.
Addressing Issues Through the Specific Plan
The Fulton Corridor Specific Plan is key to implementing Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s vision for a revitalized Downtown. Among other things, the new Specific Plan will:
- Create user-friendly development rules through a new "form-based code" that helps developers design good urban projects from the start, and eliminates haggling that adds extra time, money, and frustration to the development process.
- Set the City's course for building infrastructure (such as water, sewer, and transit) Downtown, based on where, when, and how densely development is to occur. This vision for development will in turn be guided by economic analysis of Downtown's ability to support new development and various new uses. Presently, inadequate infrastructure (due to a lack of vision on land use) is a major cause of additional cost and uncertainty for developers.
- Dramatically reduce study times and costs for each individual new project, by assessing the environmental impacts of additional development intensity upfront.
- Determine the future of the Fulton Mall through the Specific Plan and, through the accompanying environmental impact report, take the appropriate legal steps to implement the vision that stakeholders and the community adopt.
- Plan land uses, transit connections, and development financing around the High-Speed Train station coming to the vicinity of Mariposa and H Streets, in order to maximize the revitalization potential of this major regional facility.
- Set standards for the design of buildings and streets that create a sense of certainty about the quality of future development and future property values, thereby encouraging greater investment.
- Determine parking policies that maximize the user’s ability to park once and visit multiple Downtown destinations.
To sign up to participate in the development of the Downtown Specific Plan, visit the City’s Downtown Plans page or www.fresnodowntownplans.com.
Other Planning & Design Solutions for Downtown
Interim development standards.
The Planning and Development Department is moving forward with important short-term changes to the City’s land use standards in Downtown Fresno. More uses will be allowed “by-right” instead of through a lengthy Conditional Use Permit process. Developers will have more flexibility in designing their sites. Parking standards will be relaxed. At the same time, the interim standards include provisions on setbacks, building heights, and visibility that protect and promote an urban form of development. These interim standards bring Fresno’s development laws closer in line with those found in normal, successful American downtowns.
• Slideshow on the new standards
• Text of the proposed ordinance (updated 3/24/10)
Façade restoration. Many older buildings in Downtown Fresno, especially on the Fulton Mall, have been covered over by newer facades from the 1960s. These facades are generally out of character with nearby historic buildings, are sometimes poorly constructed, and often conceal an upper-story office or potential living space. By enabling more intense use of a building, façade restoration improves both beauty and utility, allowing façade restoration projects to pay for themselves very quickly. The Fresno Redevelopment Agency's storefront improvement program is a valuable tool that could be expanded to encourage true restorations of these facades.