A believer in a “downtown,” a heart of any city, I was overjoyed with the new dreams and plans for Chinatown. Then I remembered what happened to Fresno’s Fulton Mall. It was exciting, unique and promising. Today, it is only a memory as interest turned elsewhere.
All manner of competing areas were allowed particularly in the affluent north, and we were surprised when shoppers preferred their glossy freshness with free easy access parking including stores that once graced downtown to the historical facades of the mall buildings.
Showing off the mall with its world-renowned art elicited palpable excitement from visitors. Especially well-remembered are the trollies that allowed my mother to enjoy it despite her serious foot problems severely limiting strolling. May the new trolley connecting the downtown entertainment district to Campus Pointe be more positive for uniting Fresno than the nearby complex that siphons business (entertainers, sports, lecturers) from the downtown. Meandering outward growth is not good land use as it demands urban amenities, transportation, schools and more.
Another facet of the northward move was the donation of land for a major hospital, surprising us with the rush of medical services that followed. It was only exacerbated when our children’s hospital moved across the river with little consideration for the lack of any fire protection or public transportation.
To the rest of the state, Fresno is neither north nor south with many breezes through without air-conditioned vehicles until fairly recently on their way to vacations elsewhere thought of as a furnace 13 months of the year.
Where else would one find an easy one day trip to the coast and three nearby national parks providing year-round recreation including snow? Not to mention the absolutely gorgeous views with our spring blossoming fruit trees and rows of growing vegetables.
Let us hope this promising Chinatown renovation is not another “pig in a poke.” Let us be in it for the long run as a terrific heritage.
While we will never surpass San Francisco, there is more and more “San Francisco is not the city we once knew” talk: The timing would seem to be right for some of the glow its Chinatown once had to slip our way. Is that too much to dream about?
Are we going to shortchange it when some of the hopes and dreams get tarnished? Are we going to polish the “New Chinatown” or turn our attention to some other dream? Have we learned anything from our experience with the Fulton Mall, the ever northward move of medical facilities or the roadblocks delaying the high-speed rail and its station, which itself is another promising jewel for downtown?
It is an opportunity not to be missed.