While the mall initially attracted crowds, but over the years they dwindled, businesses closed, and now, "it's almost clinically dead from a commercial point of view." Those are the words of Stefanos Polyzoides, an urban designer.
He is the latest in a series of consultants the city has hired over the years to help come up with a plan to revive Fulton Mall, and all of the downtown area. But he says this current mission is different .
"This time we're not only visionaries but we're acting in a couple of ways to change the rules dramatically."
In addition to creating different concepts the consultant is working with the city to change zoning laws. City Development Director John Dugan says it's needed.
"Right now the zoning code for downtown is a 1950's model. It really isnt' designed to implement a vision for downtown as a major new growth center for the city." In addition to getting the proper zoning in place the city will get an environmental impact study completed so it's ready for any businesses who want to locate on the pedestrian mall.
But the 3000 foot long mall is seen by many as an impediment to doing business in the heart of the city.
"In my opinion we're blocked. We're blocked because of that."
Alan Allen owns two buildings on the Fulton Mall. He'd like to see some traffic return, so shoppers could drive by and see what's there. But he supports any option that improves the mall. The Consultants are offering 8 proposals for the city to consider.
Stefanos says, "Anything could happen. The options range from full restoration to allowing the Mall to function as a street."
Public meetings on ideas for downtown and the mall started Saturday and are underway for most of the week. They are being held at the Holiday Inn downtown. Allen is excited because he believes this time something might actually come from all of the talk.
"I think this is the greatest thing to happen to Fresno in my lifetime as far as something being accomplished on the Fulton Mall, in the heart of Fresno."