Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and city leaders talked about the future of Fresno at the annual State of Downtown breakfast on Tuesday.
One of the big focuses is the future of the Fulton Mall and how to maximize Fresno's resources moving forward.
Fresno's historic architecture is just one of the things city planners hope to capitalize on as they try to rejuvenate downtown.
The mayor restated her belief Tuesday that now is the time to invest in downtown Fresno. "All of the decades leading up to this point were not false starts, they were simply getting us to this point," said Mayor Swearengin.
Swearengin believes dramatic changes to downtown are necessary. "This is our main street. So we have to do something about the Fulton Mall. We've been high-centered for 40 years on determining: Do we leave it in? Do we take it out?" said Mayor Swearengin.
Taking out Fulton Mall would open it up to automobiles and allow for additional street parking, which is something keynote speaker and pedestrian mall expert, Henry Beer, believes is essential. "I think that the physical changes that need to happen to improve the functionality of the central business district, that those things are critical," said Beer.
That is something Fulton Mall property owner Bob Gurfield knows all too well. "If we bring more people down here, than people will say 'I can use this space,'" said Gurfield.
Henry Beer believes affordable space is one of downtown's major assets, but he says they have to get the word out. "I can genuinely say that if people really understood the assets that are all collected here in this community, you'd be overrun with people."
The mayor says that beyond redoing Fulton Mall, seasonal projects like the downtown ice rink are key as downtown moves forward.