published on February 18, 2016 - 11:52 PM
Written by Gabriel Dillard
We now have a better idea of the kinds of national tenants Manchester Center wants to bring to the central Fresno mall as part of owner Omninet Capital’s revitalization plan.

While the mall ownership is keeping mum on their efforts, a lease report from Fresno commercial real estate broker Retail California reveals that Manchester recently leased space to Chipotle Mexican Grill (2,200 square feet) and The Habit Burger (2,800 square feet).

Morel Bagunu, Manchester Center general manager, declined to confirm the new additions. A representative from Chipotle — which just opened its fifth Fresno-Clovis location last week — said the  Denver-based chain doesn’t talk about new store opening until a lease is signed and construction is scheduled. Messages to Irvine-based Habit Burger were not returned.

There’s no word on a time frame for these restaurants to open. But we do know that Manchester Center has been busy attracting national tenants. In January Bagunu told the Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board new leases were out for signature, especially for space fronting Blackstone and Shields avenues.

One national company was interested in a first-floor space and would create 20 full-time and 40-part time jobs, he said.

“Keep in mind that would be in conjunction with a large anchor tenant that would employ around 200 people,” Bagunu added.

But Manchester Center does face challenges. Bagunu was speaking to the Workforce Investment Board about relocating its busiest “One-Stop” employment center to another part of the mall, to make room for new retail tenants.

The board decided to extend the lease on its current location for another five years.

Some in the community have been skeptical that the 50-year-old-plus Manchester Center could see a renaissance despite the town’s retail development flocking further north. But keep in mind that the one-two punch of a Chipotle and Habit Burger has kept Fig Garden Village consistently busy.

We look forward to hearing more about Manchester Center in the future.

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