Both sides of the Fulton Mall debate have kicked into full battle mode in advance of the city council’s vote Thursday night. The save-the-mall crowd hosted a rally/party Saturday in the mall’s free speech area.
The debate revolves around whether the council should accept the city’s proposal to use a $16 million federal grant (and other matching funds) to reopen the main stretch of Fulton street to traffic (while updating the area’s worn infrastructure). Many (including Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin) believe that an open street would fundamentally change the economics of downtown by creating more marketable commercial spaces. Others believe the mall is a precious piece of historic architecture (and art and design) and should be preserved as such (with much needed upgrades in infrastructure). Still others, council member Sal Quintero for example, question the cost of opening the full six blocks to traffic and wonder if a compromise could be made. Quintero says he will put forth his own alternative at Thursday council meeting; It would open to traffic just the north and south sections of the mall and leave the center to serve as a town square of sort.
The Prom Rewind party is Saturday at the Pacific Southwest Building and the fun folks over at the Downtown Fresno Partnership blog decided to mark the occasion by bravely sharing their prom photos from way back when. In some twisted sort of self deprecation, we’ve shamelessly stolen this idea and shared some of our own prom nightmares memories with these photos. You’ll find a couple of the partnership’s photos (shared with their permission) below too.
First up is everybody’s favorite theater critic, Donald Munro. (Aw, look at those apple cheeks!)
Excitement has surrounded the new outdoor ice rink on the Fulton Mall since it opened last Friday. It’s brought out good crowds, increased foot traffic and helped spur both new visitors and new businesses downtown.
In short, it’s a step in the right direction for downtown revitalization efforts.
What it’s not: Good news for Gateway Ice Center, Fresno’s year-round, indoor ice rink. In Tuesday’s Bee, Bill McEwen wrote that Gateway — after one weekend of the downtown rink — is saying the new rink will cause its closure by next spring.
[Owner Bob] Glassman’s problem is that November, December and January are Gateway’s busiest months. Without winter profits, he says, it’s impossible to keep the rink open for occasional skaters, as well as 300 club hockey players and 100 figure skaters. The rink on the mall, meanwhile, is scheduled until Jan. 13. Then the owners will remove the boards and ice-making equipment and move on.
“This is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Glassman said Monday. “The publicity they got was unbelievable. I went down there Saturday night to take a look and they had a huge crowd. I don’t blame anybody, but they ought to think about what they’re doing.”
The opening of the Fulton Mall ice rink has been postponed until Friday. It was supposed to open today, but something about ice not freezing at 80 degrees tripped things up.
The rink, a project of the Downtown Fresno Partnership, opens at 10 a.m. and runs through Jan. 13. To thank people for their patience, the first 100 in line at the opening get in free. Details here. The opening coincides with Mattie’s Mobile Wood Fired Pizza and Catering testing out a permanent location nearby at Mariposa Mall.
The downtown partnership folks have a sense of humor about the delay and posted this on their Facebook page:
Below are a few pics of the ice rink, which is at the Fulton Mall’s Mariposa Street intersection, in front of the old Security Bank building. Here’s a map.
Sudz in the City is this Saturday and, if you’ve been paying attention you know this annual Fresno brew fest comes with plenty of changes this year. It changed seasons (from May to October), locations (from Chukchansi Park to Fulton Mall) and focuses (from the beer big boys to smaller microbrews).
The woman at the center of the Sudz switch is Kate Borders, the CEO of the Downtown Fresno Partnership. It’s her first Sudz since coming to Fresno to take her post last year. Re-tooling the popular annual event is another of the bold ideas she’s brought with her — ya know, like the downtown ice rink that’s opening soon or Over the Edge, which sent people rappelling down Fresno’s biggest building.
I wanted to ask Borders about the changes for Sudz, to get in her head a little bit. She was happy to oblige.