FULTON MALL ARTPotentially, some very important (and interesting) news reported by The Bee’s George Hostetter:

Construction bids for the Fulton Corridor project came in over budget by a hefty margin, dealing a blow to Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s plans to return cars to the six-block stretch of downtown Fresno that is now a pedestrian mall.

Swearengin said the setback is temporary. Fulton Mall advocates said the high bids are yet more proof that the mayor’s car-centered project is misguided.

City officials had hoped the low bid would be about $20 million, the cost bandied about during long debate over the mall’s fate.

American Paving at $23.05 million had the lowest of the three bids opened Tuesday at City Hall. The others were Lewis C. Nelson at $23.3 million and Granite Construction at $27.68 million.

I’ve been following this story carefully from an arts perspective. There is controversy over how the Fulton Mall’s impressive artworks — worth millions — will be preserved and featured in the city’s new vision. It’s going to cost a lot to ensure that the art is treated well, and the fact that the city is going to have to either cough up more for the project or make cuts to keep it doable at $20 million makes mall proponents leery. George talked to Doug Richert, co-chairman of the Downtown Fresno Coalition, a group suing to stop the mall’s destruction, who is worried the city’s pencil-wielding bean counters may shortchange the mall’s art collection and water features in an effort to save money:

“The bids being high strengthens our questions about the project,” Richert said. “We are greatly concerned the art will be shipped off some place and never be seen again. We believe there are options out there besides destroying the historic mall.”

Mayor Ashley Swearengin says not to worry: The artwork and fountains will be restored.

There are dedicated artists and pro-mall citizens out there watching all this closely.

Pictured:  Charles Owen Perry ‘s sculpture “Ellipsoid VI,” in a 1973 Bee photo

Donald Munro

Donald Munro

Donald Munro is The Bee's arts and culture critic. He currently has the opening song to "Galavant" stuck in his head and doesn't know if he can ever get it out.
Donald Munro

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