This past week was a historical time for downtown Fresno!

The Fulton Mall restoration groundbreaking ceremony drew a crowd of hundreds.

What happened? Thursday, March 3rd, marked the groundbreaking ceremony for the Fulton Mall reconstruction. The project will return vehicular traffic to the pedestrian mall. Expect two traffic lanes (one lane going each way), parallel street parking, restored art features, and wide sidewalks. 

Why is it important? Visibility is key for a thriving business, and opening the Mall to the vehicular traffic will significantly increase visibility for existing and future businesses. The construction will lead to a boost in real estate investment, especially much-needed renovations to existing buildings.

Fulton Mall Reconstruction Project Map

City Council passes measures to help Fulton businesses during construction.

What happened? The Fresno Bee reported that City Council approved a series of measures to help Fulton Mall businesses during construction (read article). These measures include waiving business license taxes, waiving or reducing permit fees, and providing parking vouchers for free two-hour customer parking.

Why is it important? Construction is expected to take 14 months, and the biggest concern addressed by business owners is whether or not construction will hurt their business. This is a concern voiced by my clients who are looking to relocate their business on the Mall.

These measures will help the 110 existing businesses on the Mall. The development incentives will give that extra push for future businesses to fill up vacant office and retail spaces. Not all concerns will be diminished till we see, firsthand, what construction will be like.

The “This is Fresno” app launched.

What happened? The “This is Fresno” app officially launched during the Fulton groundbreaking ceremony. Smartphone users can now go on guided tours throughout Downtown and learn more about the area’s valuable art collection and historic buildings.

What does it mean? The app makes information more accessible to the general public. This is beneficial for tourism, increasing visibility of businesses, and, ultimately, creating a sense of pride of what we have in Downtown.

Large office space is available for lease on the Fulton Mall. 

What happened? Up to 9,000 square feet of office/retail space is on the market for lease (more information). It is located near Fulton and Merced across from Peeve’s Public House. Recently, the block was featured in The Fresno Bee when Mick Marderosian, attorney, spoke about working and investing in the “heart and soul” of Fresno.

Read more about what neighboring business owners have to say about the upcoming changes, here

Why is it important? With the Fulton Mall reconstruction and business incentives, now is the time to invest on the Fulton Mall. 

Tree of Life cafe had their soft opening.

What happened? Tree of Life was one of the finalists in the Create Here competition. The business did not win the $100,000 prize package, but owners, Steve and Carolyn Ocheltree, were determined to open their own restaurant in Downtown. They chose the historic Hotel Virginia (2139 Kern St.) as their home. They unveiled the restaurant to the public during ArtHop on March 3rd. Their grand opening is scheduled for the end of the month.

Why is it important? A new business relocating in Downtown is usually reason enough to celebrate. Tree of Life is making an extra big splash in the Downtown scene. Instead of opening their doors and hoping for the best, they are working hard to get their name out there and collaborate with Downtown businesses and artists. Fresno is a big city with a small-town feel. That mentality is amplified in the Downtown business world. 

Lanna Coffee hosted an open house at their new space. 

What happened? Lanna Coffee, a roasting company, recently moved into a warehouse located on the corner of Broadway and Inyo (617 Broadway St.). Bryan Feil, owner, invited residents to stop by and watch the roasting process and taste the final product.

The building is shared with Central Valley I.T. Solutions, LLC. The space is jointly used as a roasting facility and a tech innovation lab.

Why is it important? Lanna Coffee is another business in Downtown that focuses on community and building relationships with local businesses. Also, another vacant building is being put to good use, and Downtown’s South Stadium District continues to grow. The move supports the idea of small businesses collaborating with each other to afford investing in large buildings. Bitwise Industries is a great example. I predict this trend will continue, on a smaller scale, in Downtown.

Neighborhood food market was announced to move near Downtown residents. 

What happened? A Lowell Neighborhood resident announced that a grocery store is moving in a building that has sat vacant for quite some time. The building is located on the border of the Mural District and the Lowell Neighborhood.

What does it mean? One of the most common amenities residents demand is a neighborhood grocery store within walking distance. These amenities are key in attracting and retaining residents. An increase in downtown residents makes it more likely that businesses will invest.