Investors, muralist working to revitalize Fresno Chinatown

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Monday, February 22, 2021
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Investors, muralist working to revitalize Fresno Chinatown

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The push to revitalize Fresno's Chinatown is reaching new heights and it starts with aesthetics.

Prominently displayed on Kern Street between G and F Streets, you'll find a pair of koi fish and lotus flowers on what were once walls of Dick's shoes and men's wear.

"We felt it was something that will represent change and obviously add color," says investor Es Esposo.

Investors Es Esposo and Yem Huynh initially fell in love with the architecture Chinatown had to offer.

After learning the rich culture and history surrounding the building they purchased, they saw the opportunity to help the area's revitalization.

"I've heard of other investors buying in this area," Huynh said. "I'm hoping when more businesses come, it'll bring more people."

The pair approached muralist Josh Wigger shortly after finishing his piece on the side of Fulton 55 in hopes of displaying the story behind the Koi Fish.

"It's this whole idea of perseverance and being rewarded for the fight of going against all odds," Wigger said.

Only halfway completed, it's already being well received.

"I am just so impressed with this mural," says Chinatown Fresno Foundation Executive Director Jan Minami. "This one has almost a delicacy that is very impressive and we'd like to see more work by this muralist."

Minami says the goal of the revitalization is not only to survive the pandemic and construction projects but to thrive, much like the area did prior to the 1950s.

"They had entertainment systems and shops," Minami said. "It was a really vibrant neighborhood and we would love to get that back."

Many storefronts are now serving as storage, so the foundation is working with landlords to bring business to the area.

They're even developing a walking map of the murals to attract foot traffic.

"This is kinda turning into a mural district like it happened in Downtown Fresno," Wigger said.

This mural is set to be finished by mid-March but it's already gaining attention.

"If the people come, then the businesses will come," Huynh said.

The investment team wants art to be a prominent theme on the interior of the building as well.

While maintaining the housing already inside, they want to work with promotors to bring art-hop and other events to Chinatown.