FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --After 52 years, the Fulton Mall in Downtown Fresno is set to be deconstructed. The city swung ceremonial golden sledgehammers to break ground and make room for a two-way street.
For the first time in decades, there was hope on the Fulton Mall touted by Fresno's Mayor, Ashley Swearengin, "I brought my own children here today to witness this special day."
The hope is for change and to bring life back to Downtown Fresno-- starting with the same six blocks the city turned into an outdoor mall back in 1964 despite opposition. "They said paving over Fulton Street would hurt their businesses and it would hurt the entire downtown and take Fresno 40 years to recover from that decision," Mayor Swearengin said, "well-- they were right."
This time, she says will be different and the pavement will be replaced with a two-way street. It's a $20 Million project and just like the first time around, not everyone is happy about it. "They don't live down here-- I do," said Ray Perez who lives downtown.
He's worried about the increased traffic, the smog and the money, he believes the city is throwing away. Perez added, "Just sad-- I just think it's a terrible day."
Others, like Kim Gragston disagree. She also lives downtown, "Times have changed and I think Downtown Fresno is trying to accommodate that," she said.
For Marilyn Stacks, the change is symbolic. "I'm taking a piece with me-- a big piece! I'll put it in my garden," she said while holding a piece of the rubble from the groundbreaking.
She remembers pushing her kids through the mall in strollers during construction in the '60's and they brought her back Thursday to be a part of the deconstruction. "Life goes around in circles," Stacks said.
The city says the project will start at the end of the month and it should take about 14 months to finish.