Fresno Mayor Lee Brand rides in a procession along the newly reopened Fulton Street in October 2017. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
The Fulton District in downtown Fresno is open to traffic three years after a vote by the Fresno City Council.
The opening on Saturday included a ribbon cutting and a block party, with thousands of visitors in attendance to celebrate the landmark event. Among those to speak at the event was Craig Scharton, who helped spearhead the downtown project as a member of the previous mayoral administration and with the Downtown Fresno Partnership.
“It belongs to all of us, but doesn’t just belong to Fresno,” Scharton said. “It belongs to Clovis, Madera, Kerman, Hanford and Lemoore, Huron and Mendota, Selma Fowler, Kingsburg, Sanger, Reedley. This is our urban core, this is our urban experience.”
Mayor Lee Brand also spoke of the milestone.
“You’ve heard it said that every great city has a great downtown. And today, we can proudly say that Fresno is a great city,” Brand said. “And we have set the stage for success, we have taken the best practices of their cities that opened their pedestrian malls to traffic and the end result is Fulton is open for business.”
Brand was a member of the council when it voted to open Fulton Street in 2014. As a result, more than $100 million was invested in downtown, including a $16 million federal grant 2013. Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) was one of the leaders in getting the federal grant.
“When we started the vote count, we had one vote,” said former Mayor Ashley Swearengin. “After many hundreds of people filled the council chambers and after years and years of work, we ended up with a supermajority of support and ultimately, all the council members, even those who weren’t originally on board were like: ‘Yes! We’re saying “Yes” to Fresno!’”