Major Fresno retail development underway, despite concerns

FRESNO, Calif.

The El Paseo project is located near Herndon Avenue and Riverside Avenue (formally Bryan Avenue). Once completed it will feature a Target store and several other major retailers.

The developers the project will be a major retail destination. Once billed as Fresno's next River Park, lawsuits forced the project to scale down. But in about one year it should be open to shoppers.

After years of delay work is underway on the marketplace at El Paseo shopping center. It will turn about 100 acres of land into a major shopping center.

Elizabeth Darling lives in a tiny neighborhood right next door to the development. "I have no idea what we're facing. But in the meantime we're stuck here," said Darling, "Now I think they say they are going to build a target or something, I don't really know."

From his office in Southern California developer Chris Shane told Action News plans are for a Super Target store -- along with Old Navy, Marshall's, Ross, Burlington Coat Factory, Petco, and several restaurants. The goal is to attract shoppers from a wide area. "One of the only major retail projects on the 99 corridor so we fully expect it to be a regional draw."

That is problem for the Madera County Board of Supervisors which filed a lawsuit alleging the shopping center will cause increased traffic and cause it to lose businesses across the border and result in blight. Earlier lawsuits over traffic, and growth were settled when the developer cut the size of the project down.

There are still neighborhood concerns. Elizabeth Darling has lived here for more than 40 years, and is sad to see all the changes to this once quiet rural area. "There was nothing, the figs were still growing and we had beautiful olive trees right across the street, and those trees were here for more than a hundred years. My neighbor told me and in less than five minutes they were chopped down, I was really sad because we lost the trees."

Now Madera County and Fresno are currently in talks over this project. The developer says this is just phase one, and hopes to eventually win approval to develop the entire 240 acre site.

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