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Fences wrap around specific areas of Downtown Fresno during construction for the revitalization process on Aug. 22, 2016. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)

Downtown Fresno: living, working and playing

My, how things have changed in Fresno — more people are saying, “Let’s go downtown.”

In 2010, plans were put in motion to begin the Downtown Fresno Revitalization project. The goal is to bring more financial and cultural prosperity to the heart of Fresno, and nearby neighborhoods.

The project consists more than structural rehabilitations. It includes new modern lofts, live music, art events, new restaurants and tea houses.

ArtHop, The Market on Kern, CArtHop, Movies in the Park and ComedyHop are some of the newest and most popular events.

Fulton Street is one of the most talked about changes. The once-popular pedestrian mall is now becoming car friendly. The $20 million project is expected to take 14 months. Construction on Fulton Street between Inyo and Tuolumne streets began in March.

Daniel Zack, assistant director at the Development and Resource Management Department is hard at work overseeing the completion of the downtown plans.

“The completion of the Fulton Street project will probably result in a burst of storefront improvements, building remodels and new businesses,” Zack said.

All businesses located on Fulton Street are open during construction.

The blueprint for all this is complex.

Zack said, “This project consists of three parts: The Fulton Corridor Specific Plan, which proposes a vision for the heart of downtown and policies that will help us achieve that vision; the Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan, which does the same for the residential neighborhoods surrounding downtown; and the Downtown Development Code, which contains new zoning regulations for both areas that ensures that new development projects conform to the new vision and contribute to the area’s revival.”

The project is making good progress and has been embraced by the community, Zack said. If the momentum builds, Zack said, Fresno will have “The next great American downtown.”

Zack said downtown should be economically strong, exhibit strong social ties and create pride within the community. He hopes downtown becomes a safe, fun and diverse place to live, work and play.

“There should be a lot of fun things to do, and it should also be a great place to work,” Zack said. “It should be economically strong — buildings should be fully occupied and in good condition. It should be a place that is comfortable to walk, and the sidewalks should be full of people, which makes it a safe and fun place, and also a good place to do business.”

Give downtown five to 10 years and the changes will be dramatic, Zack said.

“Downtown should be the place where people from all walks of life gather and mingle.”