Mayor Elect Has New Plans for Downtown Fresno

December 30, 2008 6:07:42 PM PST
Former City Council Member Craig Scharton is Fresno's new Downtown Czar. He'll head the city's Downtown and Community Revitalization Department, created by Mayor Elect Ashley Swearengin with one goal in mind. "This department will be charged with the revitalization of downtown." Swearengin told a news conference on Tuesday.Swearengin is creating this new agency out of the Department of Economic Development. One goal Scharton, and his staff will be focused on is getting some of the city's empty, or underused historic buildings back in business.

"These buildings are not going away. As much as some would like them to be knocked down or destroyed or whatever, they are here and we need to figure out a solution to put them back into use." Scharton said.

Some ideas include finding or providing grants or subsidies to upgrade things like air conditioning or elevator systems, that are preventing full use of the buildings. Swearengin supports taking lots of small steps to fix downtown, and isn't sure the city needs to do something to bring hockey back to downtown's Selland Arena. She says, "I wouldn't say no, but at this point we have to move forward with the plan we're laying out here today, which is systematic revitalization of Downtown that doesn't depend on one thing working or not."

Swearengin must sell her vision to the City Council. She hopes to have the new department up and running within a few weeks after taking office.

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