OPTION 1: RECONNECT FORMER STREET GRID ON TRADITIONAL STREETS

(Edited 9/19/12). Photo depiction of Option 1. Crosswalks are placed every half a block and provide space for existing art features. Pruned trees and better signage make store fronts more visible. The sidewalks are wide enough for outdoor seating and pedestrian traffic. Cars can park in front of stores. The facades once covering the upper floors of buildings have been taken down. More street lighting is added and are updated with a historical character.

Features

  • Pedestrian right-of-way is replaced with two car lanes that go both ways.
  • Easily closed for special community events.
  • Wide sidewalks for outdoor seating and walking. Width depends on whether on-street parking will be angled or parallel to the curb.
  • 17 of the 20 sculptures  relocated within the Central Business District.
  • 252 on-street parking along Fulton Street and 117 metered on-street stalls along the cross streets.

 

Economic Impact

  • Ground floor vacancy will decrease from 26% to 9%.
  • 430,000 sq. ft. of space will be newly occupied.
  • Annual gross sales will increase from $32.1 million to $79.1 million; a $47 million increase.
  • Retail sales will double from $92/sq. ft. to 184/ sq. ft. Some new retailers will generate sales equal to or greater than the industry standard of $372/sq. ft.

 

Revenue & Cost

  • Construction Cost: $12-12.8 million
  • Maintenance Cost over 30 years: 3.7 million
  • Parking revenue over 30 years: $18.9 million

These figures were estimated by a consulting firm. I have heard, from the City, that each option will cost around the same to construct; $15-20 million. The City is applying for grants -up to $20 million- to help with the construction. The general trend is that a street will cost the least to maintain and the more parking spots will increase revenue.

 

Support

This option is supported by the Downtown Fresno Partnership (a property-based business improvement district). 50-1 downtown property owners voted to restore traffic to the Fulton Mall.

Option 1 is the Mayor’s second choice.

The Advisory Committee of the Fulton Corridor Specific Plan (FCSP) favors this option, along with Option 2.

One of the sculpture in a three-part series called, "Three Fires" by Claire Falkenstein. The metal and glass sculptures represent the different stages of a fire. They are located in front of the Chuckchansi Stadium's entrance. These sculptures to stay in their current place, under every alternative plan.

 

Opinion

The following are my opinions regarding Option 1. Please contribute your opinion in the comments. I usually steer away from expressing my opinions on this blog but I thought this would be a great opportunity to feel more confident to state my views, as a real estate broker. Please don’t let me foolishly think I know everything!

Unnecessary amount of art will be removed – The only art features that will remain in their current locations are the three sculptures in front of the Chuckchansi stadium entrance. Instead of being relocated outside of the Fulton Mall, most art features can be placed near the new cross walks. This might be the intention of the plan, as depicted in the photo at the the top of this post. The specific location of the art has yet to be determined in the FCSP.

Risky Trade-off – Option 1 and 2 will result in a drastic makeover. Current businesses might be worst off, during the construction period. Pedestrians will have limited access to stores more than ever. I do not recall reading anything in the FCSP that goes into depth of how the City or the Downtown Fresno Partnership (DFP) will help businesses during construction. Maybe a solution to this issue will be discussed before a plan is adopted. One can make the argument that it would be less disruptive to build a street now while the vacancy rate on the Mall is high (ground floor vacancy is 26%).

Most convenient parking – This option provides the most parking on Fulton Street. Even if a parking spot is not guaranteed, shoppers in Fresno like the idea of having a chance to conveniently park in front of a store. Parking will encourage some drivers to travel down Fulton Street in search of a parking spot. On-street parking will increase store-front exposure. On-street parking will also add more “eyes on the street,” making the pedestrian experience safer.

Chance to improve infrastructure – Constructing a street will provide the City an easier opportunity to improve the Mall’s deteriorating infrastructure while constructing a new Fulton. This will lower the cost of improving infrastructure and save time.

Increase in rent – This option is expected to increase the cost of rent the most. Option 1 provides the most exposure to shoppers which makes retail space more valuable. Property owners will have more money to improve buildings without the dependence on government money. However, we run into the issue of an increase in property taxes. I think the City should maintain current tax levels for the first few years after the completion of the Fulton project. Paired with other tax incentives, property owners are more likely to improve the condition and efficiency of their buildings. It will also attract new investors. This plan does come at the cost of, temporarily, withholding potential money from the DFP. The amount of money the DFP receives is dependent on the amount downtown owners pay in property taxes. The organization operates at a budget of over $500,000.

 

North end of the Mall. Click on photo to enlarge.
South end of the Mall. The photo depiction shows the possibility of having a street car run through Fulton Street. Click on photo to enlarge.

 

Online Sources

DRAFT Fulton Corridor Specific Plan

Fulton Mall Alternative Plans – Economic Analysis

 

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Have a lovely day in Fresno!

Veronica Stumpf, Co-Broker

Stumpf and Company, Commercial Real Estate

DRE Lic. #01906952

 

 

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I'm a commercial real estate broker at my family's business, Stumpf & Company. I started That Fresno Blog in 2011 to learn more and spread the word about my hometown, Fresno, CA. In the process, I became passionate about downtown Fresno and swing dancing. Have a lovely day in Fresno!

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