Tuesday, May 31, 2016

This is what the destruction of Fresno's Fulton Mall looks like

Fresno's pedestrian mall, one of the first in the country, is no more. A multi-year campaign by the city to remove the pedestrian and bicycle mall it and replace it with a street for cars has been successful, as (de)construction is well underway.

I took a walk down the entire length last week and took too many pictures. This post, from August, has some reference pictures as to what it looked like a year ago. Be warned, this post is long.

The north part has totally been removed. The center part looks disconcerting, with plenty of mall left but lots of destruction. The southern end has already progressed to the point that concrete is being laid for the parking areas.

The speed of this project has surprised me. Kicking off was a year delayed (original completion date was next month) but they've since moved quickly after a March groundbreaking. That's certainly good for the businesses which are in a bad shape right now. However, I was surprised to see how superficial the construction was. It appears that they scraped off the mall and are laying the new road straight on the dirt. That is, I didn't see any digging. I assume the area has very old sewer and electrical systems, and now would have been the very best time to replace those. Maybe lay some fiber cable as well? Seems short-sighted to ignore that. If the area "booms" as the project component claims, will the existing underground infrastructure support them?

Section 1: Tuolumne to Fresno


We start at Fulton and Tuolumne, which is the north end of the mall. For reference, all pictures taken lastThursday starting at around 4pm.

No work at the intersection yet, which is slated to get major pedestrian improvements.


The orphan street, which hasn't led anywhere in 40 years, is being used for staging. 


 And so we begin. A pedestrian promenade reduced to around 8 feet of walking space.


The walkway to CVS.


The former mall


Narrow walkway between construction and a parking lot.

 This would make a good Halloween maze.


Maybe a maze with a maximum security prison theme.


 Looking backwards


One of the side streets, which were also all pedestrianized. 






Ah! Suddenly the claustrophobia ebbs and fences make way for trees, a playground, and open pedestrian space. For now.


I guess it was nice of them to leave the playground a little longer. Remember, the city claimed that this project would not impact park space at all.  (Fresno is 97th in park space, out of 100).


But not all is well.


Another oasis remains, for now.

 Looking back.



Warning: Massive amount of pictures after the jump.



This pub is owned by one of the strongest voices supporting the destruction of the Fulton Mall. The yellow tape marks the boundary of his outdoor seating/alcohol area.



Really a pleasant area to eat, drink, chat, and gather.


Although the owner, Craig Scharton, claimed that the project would only yield dividends to business, he closed up shop. I guess destruction scares customers away. He claims he will re-open when construction ends. We'll see.


A few fountains remain.


You quickly notice how people walk along the shade.


Looking back.


Businesses are closing earlier than they would in the past. 





  

When the mall was built, creating shade was key. That won't be the case in the future.







Section 2: Fresno to Tulare


We cross Fresno Street. 




You can still get the mall experience here.


For a little bit. Before you reach destruction. 



The new Fulton Street will not have any bicycle parking.








 The new Fulton Street will not have any bicycle lanes.


I think these trees are being saved? I hope so.


The areas that aren't disaster zones still see shoppers.













 

Down a side street. Parking is coming to this stub.


Fresno's most famous sculpture has been hauled away, to be refurbished.






This is outrageous. This business as only open for a few months when they (and their neighbors) wee forced to close due to a lack of electricity. It has since been a year. I was told that developers were going to start investing the SECOND the shovels started digging?















Not working. 








 Looking backwards



This fountain was filled in many years ago, as part of the city's neglect of the mall.


Skateboard, bicycle, bicycle. The new Fulton Street will have zero accommodations for these folks. 








This store is quite unique.





 

Section 3: Tulare to Inyo


And now we get to the southern end. This part has progressed the most. However, the construction treatment is abysmal. If you wanted to kill every business this is how you'd do it.


Who on earth wants to walk down this? Narrow, dark, limited exists... it's like crime alley.



Sure there are signs for the businesses... 

And there were some pedestrians, but I can't imagine the businesses are enjoying this. 


Behind the fence, scenes from a disaster movie.



A maze to reach the stores


Sad.


What was my favorite fountain.






Come shop guys.


Businesses are open. 




Casa de Tamales is barely a couple of months old here. I hope they survive this.


















This is an accurate representation of future bicycle facilities on Fulton Street.





 


 This tiny part will actually remain as a pedestrian mall.



I feel so safe.







While the alleys will see more traffic, there are no plans to spruce them up.





Let's cut across quickly and look at the opposite side.

Landscaping being removed to add angled parking. 



And again, the new circulation plan means that to access many of the new parking spaces, one will have to treat themselves to a lovely drive through these alleys.


No money has been earmarked to make these look pleasant or safe. They will make a lovely impression on opening day.














Concrete has already been placed for the parking area. As I mentioned previously, it appears that no subterranean upgrades were performed. 






And we reach the end.





 The ever-so-lively existing Fulton Street shows us the wonderful future of the mall.


We can walk around to the East side. 


And take this very lovely funnel hallway


To this very lovely enclosed space, which is completely invisible from absolutely all angles. Perfect murder spot really.The city kicked out all the vendors in that store a few years ago.


Escape route blocked off.


Stairs....unappealing.


Elevators functional.


Inside the old department store.


We can ride this baby to the roof.  I'm sure all of the future visitors, after driving from their northern suburban home, will be thrilled to use this.


Parking is plentiful.


And we can sort of look at the construction. I believe that will be a midblock crosswalk. You can see how narrow the future sidewalk will be.




 

Bonus: Across the street this lovely new residential building which opened last year. 


 And this exciting venture.


Ahem. Anyway. $20 million available for cars, but apparently zero for this disaster. I trust you will believe me that the smell makes the NYC subway feel like the Swizz countryside.


Future visitors will be thrilled.



And that's it! Fulton Mall from end to end. Next time I do a photo update I expect that all remaining traces of the mall will be gone. Again, for the sake of the businesses, I hope the city works as fast as possible.

13 comments:

  1. Thanks. This is very sad. Keep us updated.

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  2. I really wish we had some sort of "fast forward button" that we can push so we can bypass all this mess. I really sincerely hope this street induces energy for the private sector to start putting their money where there mouth is and start investing in business in DTF.

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  3. Please contact me, Melanie@streetsblog.org

    I am writing a short post about this blog entry but would like to check in with you about it. Thanksl

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  4. Thanks for this post! Awesome insight.

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  5. James, thanks for doing what you do. I no longer live in the valley but this Fresno is like a train wreck, and your blog offers the best vantage point.

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  6. You mention the horror at the dismantling of the old lighting system, those actually look like pretty abysmal ly sheilded fixtures with color temperatures too high.

    I know it won't take the ultimate loss out of it, but Fresno could at least do the lighting right. Fixtures similar to the ones in the second picture would be nice and modern as well as decently sheilded if pointed down. The color temp of 3000k makes them pretty much ideal.

    http://www.gazettenet.com/Petitioners-say-planned-Northampton-LED-streetlights-not-up-to-snuff-2269387

    *Bonus* the fourth and the fifth picures are of the ideal cct warm white led streetlights. Basically imagine street lights that look like those in all of Fresno. It certainly blows the doors off the daylight white leds Clovis was originally installing.

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    Replies
    1. I dont think any thought has been put into the new lighting

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    2. Dude. I am an engineer that worked on this project, and the lighting was my entire focus for, like, a month. I modeled the light levels along the entire project to make sure the light levels will blow the doors off of what was there before (and still saving a bunch of energy).

      The lights will all be 4000K CCT.

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    3. Anon, thats good to hear. I hope what you designed wasn't the first thing that was cut when they scaled back the project

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    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    5. The city has a long way to come with LED lighting, or any light source for that matter, if the predominant mentality is to put weak lights, suited more for residential neighborhoods, onto large sized poles giving residents the illusion of powerful lights during the day. And, btw, a cct of 4,000 kelvin is still much too blue, and at this point with this generation of led cobraheads, doesn't even offer a substantial power savings over the warm white 3000 kelvin models. It's probably safe to predict the lights, if any at all, will be cobrahead type fixtures that will either be 70 watts hps or half the *light ouput* led.

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    6. ...bit of a small correction, the lights are most will most likely be cobrahead or post top or a combination of the two. For those that don't know what a post top fixture is..

      http://www.ledcorncobbulb.com/upload/photo/41396c3a2721a9eff32df77fb044a092.jpg

      They're usually very glary, generally much more expensive method of lighting streets compared to the conventional cobrahead type streetlights seen all over the city. That being said, there are fully sheilded models with the light source tucked up into a opaque cap on the top of the fixture with better light quality. I wouldn't hold my breath on those... Btw, fully shielded 3000k leds would've made a far more uniquely warm and enticing night environment.

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  7. An extra-bonus. The people of Davis were actually polled on street light color temperature, and the results found that the warm white lights were the most well like and, not surprisingly, the least hated. They actually outbeat both hps and led in public opinion polls.

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