The 5-2 vote came down just before 11pm Thursday; six hours after the meeting began. Council members Sal Quintero and Paul Caprioglio voted no.
Remodeling Fulton Mall has been pushed for years by Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin. Right now, the city has $20 million secured to fund construction that will open the mall to traffic. The money is coming from federal, state and locally donated funds. The city says none of the project will be paid for with general fund money.
Supporters are excited and hopeful the changes will help revitalize downtown Fresno. But opponents say the fight to preserve the mall as it is now, and its artwork, is not over.
"I'm relieved," Mayor Swearengin said. "I think this is exactly the right thing for Fresno. It's been a long time coming. People have wrestled with this issue literally 30 or 40 years. This is a great example of Fresno taking a big step forward. And I have a lot of confidence that it's going to make a huge impact for our downtown and our city."
"The struggle will continue and sad to say but I believe there will be lawsuits," said Jill Fields, who supports preserving the Fulton Mall. "I think some of the procedures have been violated. I think the environmental impact report is not complete and doesn't consider the impact of bringing more cars and getting rid of pedestrian space for more car exhaust."
The Fulton Mall has been a pedestrian mall for 50 years. Now, the city will begin the process of bidding out the construction work before any demolition timeline are announced.