After years of talk, Fresno finally took the plunge and started converting Fulton Mall in downtown to a street again. Once a street and the center of a bustling downtown until the mid-1960s, the city’s core has been in a long decline. Its last department store closed in the late 1980s, and years of city leaders giving developers carte blanche to build north towards Madera has hastened the city’s decline. Finally, the current mayoral administration has realized that investment in downtown Fresno and its stellar collection of architecture could make it the economic hub of the San Joaquin Valley, but so far the evidence suggests that making Fulton Mall into Fulton Street again has been a business killer. The current construction does not even allow for the festivals that can succeed in bringing residents to downtown.

Fulton Mall, Fresno, San Joaquin Valley, architecture, Leon Kaye, Pokemon Go

There are more pidgeys in Fulton Mall than people

My recent bicycling tours of Fulton Mall during various times of day show a mess and local businesses suffering. Although the city has touted its eventual transformation, civic leaders have failed to support the stores that are trying to tough out the reconstruction. Customers are not coming downtown because there is little visual evidence that the area is open for business. Instead of the city being proactive and promoting an “open during construction” phase, local business owners are making their own signs and scrambling on social media to promote their stores. City Hall needs to do far more than offer free parking and perky posts on Facebook. These businesses need a lifeline to get through this chaotic time. The fencing around the construction signs offer little room through which pedestrians can maneuver, and the surrounding area, quite frankly, appears less than low rent.

These business owners need far more incentives and financial boosts than what the city is currently offering. In revamping the city in an attempt to make local leaders look visionary, they risk killing off the businesses that have long invested in this neighborhood when no one else would not. The only saving grace of this construction cluster is that the Pokémon Go is hopping. A Pokémon festival would at least bring people down to south Fresno, instead of the occasional “cash mobs” that are trying to keep restaurants afloat during this trying time.

Image credits: Leon Kaye

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.