Mayor Swearengin: Preferred Alternative Will Spur Revitalization of Fulton Mall, Downtown
10/14/2011

Fresno, CA – Calling the Fulton Mall “the linchpin to successful revitalization,” Mayor Ashley Swearengin today said her administration’s preferred alternative for the Mall will provide both economic and cultural benefits to the City.

In announcing the release of the Fulton Corridor Specific Plan, Mayor Swearengin announced her support for an alternative with these major elements:

  • The introduction of a two-way street through the Fulton Mall and restoring selected original Mall design elements in their original Mall contests (“vignettes”) in a manner that provides improved retail visibility and some on-street parking.
  • Fulton Street could be closed to traffic for special events or on weekends as desired.
  • Bicycles, cars and transit would share the roadway.
  • Within the “vignette” areas, the Mall landscape would be retained to the maximum extent possible, while accommodating through traffic.
  • The street surface would incorporate the original paving materials and patterns of the 1964 landscape and no parking would be allowed within the vignettes.
  • Fourteen of the Mall’s 20 sculptures would remain in their current locations. The remaining six would be relocated in the Central Business District, either along Fulton or assembled in Mariposa Plaza.
  • Twelve of the 21 water features would remain in place and functioning.
  • Gross retail sales are projected to increase by 73 percent to about $55 million annually.

“It is clear, based on our research of other cities, that restoring circulation is imperative to the economic health of our downtown,” Mayor Swearengin said. “No matter how badly some may want to restore the Mall to its 1964 conditions, ultimately, there has to be some level of economic activity that supports the restoration and reuse of the historic buildings along the Mall to create the critical mass needed for revitalization.

“This preferred option presents the best opportunity to capture the economic benefits necessary to support the rehabilitation and reuse of the historic buildings and public realm surrounding the Fulton Mall area while preserving the overwhelming majority of art and sculptures in their current location.”

The draft Specific Plan defines a vision for a Downtown core that is focused on a revitalized Fulton Mall and utilizes best practices in managing parking and transportation, water supply, historic resources, and other assets. The Plan works in tandem with the form-based Downtown Development Code, a new zoning code for Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, to ensure a higher quality of new building design over time.
“When the Fulton Corridor Specific Plan is finally adopted into law, it will clearly articulate to anyone wanting to do business in our urban core what the City’s plans are and our priorities for public infrastructure,” Mayor Swearengin said. “It will provide the predictability and reliability that the private sector needs to make good investment decisions.”

The Fulton Corridor Specific Plan Advisory Committee, a 21-member group of residents appointed by Mayor Swearengin and council members, conducted public meetings last year to consider 10 alternatives for the future of the Fulton Mall. The committee narrowed the options down to three for consideration in the full environmental review (all of the options will be considered equally):

  • Option 1 – This option removes the original 1964 pedestrian mall design and replaces it with an enhanced street that incorporates vehicle traffic, wide sidewalks, on-street parking and a new streetscape. In this option, 17 of the Mall’s sculptures would be relocated elsewhere in the Central Business District and three of the 21 water features would remain in place and functioning. This option, which is projected to increase gross retail sales by 146 percent to $80 million, received by largest number of votes from the committee.
  • Option 2 – This is the Mayor’s preferred option. (Details above.)
  • Option 3 –Restoration and completion of the Mall by keeping the Fulton Street, Merced Street, Mariposa Street and Kern Street Malls in their original pedestrian-only configuration. The entire project as envisioned and realized by Garrett Eckbo, including all of its features and details, would be renovated and the existing artwork would be restores in place. All of the water features would remain in place and functioning. Various design improvements would be introduced, including more lighting, new restrooms and better way-finding signage. Gross retail sales would be expected to increase by 19 percent to $38.2 million.

Mayor Swearengin said that no matter which option is selected, the range of costs is between $8 million and $16 million. By the time the environmental review is completed in a year, the City will have a clear picture on funding options to implement the plan, she added.

The City will hold a series of public meetings that will be conducted by the Fulton Corridor Specific Plan Community Advisory Committee. The schedule for the meetings is:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 18, 3 to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 25, 3 to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 1, 3 to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 8, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

All meetings will be held at City Council Chambers, 2600 Fresno St.

City staff also will brief Fresno City Council on the alternatives at council’s Oct. 20 meeting.
Once the Fulton Corridor Community Advisory Committee initiates the formal Plan adoption process, an environmental process will begin and take about a year. Final adoption of the Plan by City Council is expected in late 2012.

The draft Plan is available at www.fresnodowntownplans.com. In addition, the text of Mayor Swearengin’s announcement of the Plan and her preferred alternative, as well as the Power Point presentation from the announcement, is available on the City’s website at www.fresno.gov. Video of the announcement is available www.fresno.gov/video

The Future of the Fulton Mall PowerPoint
Script of the Mayor's Announcement

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