Mayor believes housing will breathe life into Blackstone Avenue

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Thursday, December 1, 2022
Mayor believes housing will breathe life into Blackstone Avenue
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Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer believes the future of Blackstone Avenue is housing.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For many decades, retail was the driver that transformed Blackstone Avenue and moved it away from its agricultural and residential roots.

But Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer believes the future of Blackstone Avenue is housing.

"It's about affordable housing. It's about market rate. It is about mixed housing," said Dyer.

Dyer says Manchester Center will eventually take on a much different look.

Retail would remain on the ground floor of the mall but the second floor would be used as living space.

"The plans are in. We're getting those approved now for the development of 592 housing units on that property. It will be an adaptive reuse of the businesses that are currently there," explained Dyer.

The Smuggler's Inn on Blackstone is another example of adaptive reuse.

Hotels rooms here have been converted into apartments.

Fresno ranked 5th in California with 165 converted apartments between 2020-21, according to RentCafe. Los Angeles had the most with 590.

If the Manchester plan is approved, Fresno Housing would not be involved in the project. But CEO Tyrone Roderick Williams has noticed the growing mall reuse trend.

"There are a number of examples across the country where the malls have been converted into residential facilities. One, the infrastructure is generally in place," Williams said.

Dyer talked about plans for Manchester Center during the unveiling of a senior center at the Link on Blackstone - a project he calls a catalyst for redeveloping the area

"A lot of good things happening on Blackstone Avenue and that's just the start. There's going to be a day when you see tens of thousands of people living on Blackstone," said Dyer.