Aug 05, 2020
The retail phase of "The Square at Campus Pointe," located off Chestnut Avenue between Palazzo student housing and the Save Mart Center, is expected to be completed next spring.

Campus Pointe retail phase the core of creating ‘college-town,’ developer says

The retail phase of "The Square at Campus Pointe," located off Chestnut Avenue between Palazzo student housing and the Save Mart Center, is expected to be completed next spring.

Construction of the retail phase of “The Square at Campus Pointe,” located off Chestnut Avenue between Palazzo student housing and the Save Mart Center, is expected to be completed next spring. Julian Paredes / The Collegian.

When construction of Fresno’s latest retail center is completed next year, it will house a local brewery, a 2,700-seat theater and several cheap “quick food” establishments originating from the Valley – a core its developer believes will bring a “college town” feel to Fresno State.

The 45-acre Campus Pointe project completed its housing phase when Palmillla and Palazzo, housing east of the Save Mart Center, opened in 2009 and 2010, respectively. It is the largest mixed-use public-private partnership in the California State University system.

The project’s retail phase broke ground in February, a decade after the project’s start, after lawsuits and a slumping economy stalled progress.

“One of the main reasons for this development was to be for a college town at Fresno State,” said Nick Kazarian, assistant to Kashian Enterprises CEO Edward Kashian and Fresno State graduate. “Fresno State has kind of been notorious for being a commuter college.”

Kazarian spoke Wednesday at the University Business Center to an audience of about 40 as part of the Gazarian Real Estate Center fall speaker series about the recent developments of “The Square at Campus Pointe,” a retail center off Chestnut Avenue between the Save Mart Center and Palazzo student housing.

About 25 to 30 percent of the development at Campus Pointe will be food retailers that tailor to students’ tastes and wallets, Kazarian said. It is expected that majority of the retail center’s economy will be supported by Fresno State students, staff and faculty.

“We’re not going to put some unique store here that’s going to attract people from all over … We want this to be first and foremost for the students,” Kazarian said. “So we want to maintain that smaller price point and increase that volume.”

Tenants at “The Square” will include Cold Stone Creamery, Beach Hut Deli, Tofas Mediterranean Grill, Yogurtland, Mad Duck and Wok It Out – each selected with university oversight. Heritage Theatre, the 16-screen cinema that will serve as the retail center’s centerpiece, will feature the largest IMAX screen in Fresno and Clovis and is expected to have a soft opening in mid-November.

Campus Pointe will also include a three-star Hyatt Place hotel, senior housing – and about 160,000-square-feet of office space that could house Fresno State department offices. A program is in the works that will allow senior housing residents fee waivers to audit classes at Fresno State.

Finding the “college town” feel took research.

A committee of about 20 students, administration and city leaders led by Dr. James Aldredge, a Fresno State professor emeritus, was formed at the start of the project to solidify an idea. Project leaders visited several campuses across the country – from California to North Carolina – to find inspiration.

All of those major universities had a retail center “or some sort of town aspect that served the college community that was just adjacent to it,” Kazarian said.

Kazarian added that Kashian Enterprises, also the developer of The Shops at River Park, will seek student and campus community input on what future retailers “The Square” should house via reader polls accessed through QR codes. It is a method that helped bring H&M to River Park this year.

“That’s how we got H&M,” Kazarian said. “That was one of the driving forces that we presented to them and it said, ‘Hey, look, not only do we want you here … but people want you here.’ We’re not just coming up with this ourselves. Whatever the students want, we will do our best to execute.”

Chestnut Avenue was widened from Shaw Avenue to Bullard Avenue to help with traffic flow when Campus Pointe retailers open, but concerns remain – primarily when the Save Mart Center hosts events.

Kazarian said future traffic and parking in the area will be a “constant battle.”

“It’s something that is going to be an education process that’s unfortunately going to have to involve a few tickets here and there, but it’s something that we’ve thought about, and we’re working with the police department to, literally, police. But we want to help people conform, not force people to conform.”

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