Sunday’s Bee had a good story from intern Victoria Guida about the rise of Fresno’s Mural District or Uptown or the Cultural Arts District — or whatever the cool kids are calling that section of downtown these days. As I read it, one quote jumped off the page at me:
“Nobody’s afraid to come downtown anymore.”
That was from area business owner Carla Barraza, whose point of view offers a good framework for a story about the makeover in the area. She knew it when it was dangerous place, and now she’s seeing it transform thanks to Fulton 55, Iron Bird Lofts, the numerous other housing developments and the businesses they’ve attracted.
But it was that one statement of hers — not just because of the obvious hyperbole — that I dwelled on for a while. As you’d expect, the oft-belligerent comments on fresnobee.com took exception, spouting off with statement such as:
You have to love these Fictional Puff Pieces written for the benefit of the mayor. Too bad it has zero credibility as most people know it’s the Bad Lands. HA!
Maybe if you live south of Olive Avenue you’re not afraid…….I think most north and central Fresno residents would strongly disagree with your statement……..
Truth is, there’s no right answer for this. There are still plenty of people still scared to come downtown — if only for unfamiliarity’s sake. And there are plenty of people whose minds’ have changed thanks to some of the recent advances.
If nothing else, the Iron Bird Cafe post from last week showed us there’s a passionate group of people who care about the area and its businesses, even if it’s not the majority of Fresnans.
The whole “being scared of downtown” thing is like the “nothing to do in Fresno” thing was a five years ago. People in the know will tell you it’s completely foolish, but the people who believe it probably aren’t going to have upturn their beliefs because of one story they read in the paper.
That sort of change is going to require the downtown scaredy cats taking one chance, followed by a series of positive experiences and finally, maybe, one day, an epiphany.
Still, this is all about perception — and everybody’s is different — so I’m curious to hear some opinions:
- Do YOU feel less afraid to visit downtown Fresno than you did a year ago? Two years ago? If not, what’s it going to take for you to feel comfortable? Or will you ever?
- For you longtime downtown supporters, do you think a significant dent has been made into the perception that downtown is a place that Fresnans should fear?