published on March 31, 2016 - 7:00 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

More than 400 people packed the Warnors Theater Wednesday for the Downtown Fresno Partnership’s annual State of Downtown presentation.

Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen served as the event’s emcee. Mayor Ashley Swearengin also spoke at the gathering, delivering a recap of the city’s progress in revitalizing Downtown as well as another rousing rendition of her now infamous “mean tweets.”

Downtown Fresno Partnership President and CEO Aaron Blair said $95 million in private sector investment poured into Downtown Fresno over the past year and added that another $92 million has been committed to upcoming projects expected to break ground in the next year to 18 months.

Another sign of Downtown’s resurgence: Nearly 440 new residential units are expected to come on to the market in the coming year, with more than 200 already under construction, Blair said.

During the evening’s festivities, Alaska Airlines, one of the event’s sponsors this year, gave away a couple of pairs of tickets for flights to Portland and San Diego, two new destinations the airline has recently added to its service out of Fresno.

Holding the event in the historic theater “really added some fun and theatricality to the evening,” Blair said. Last year’s event took place in the ballroom of the Pacific Southwest building.

James Haron, owner of Haron Jaguar and Land Rover, was this year’s recipient of the Al Allen Award, given annually at the event to an individual who, Blair said, “exemplifies the spirit of Al Allen.”

Allen was a Fulton Mall property owner and downtown champion who died in 2013.

“Al’s love for Downtown was unwavering and his support never waned,” Blair said. “His attitude was always positive and he was often the first one into the fray when a new idea was brought to the table on how to make downtown a better place.”

John Ostlund, president of The Fulton Group, was the 2015 Al Allen Award winner.

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