The second floor of the Manchester Center mall in central Fresno will become 592 units of housing, according to Mayor Jerry Dyer.
“Blackstone is the spine of Fresno. It is an area that people travel on a daily basis and it has been historically for retail and commercial. But the future of Blackstone is much more than that. It is about housing.” — Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer
Dyer confirmed the long-rumored conversion during a speech Monday at the opening of a nearby senior center.
“We’re getting those (plans) approved now for the development of 592 housing units on that property,” Dyer said. “So it will be an adaptive reuse. … The ground floor will continue to be retail, but the second floor, as well as some other buildings, will be housing. A lot of good things happen on Blackstone Avenue and that’s just a start.”
For years, the second floor at Manchester Center has been bereft of retail businesses. It has been used mainly for classrooms and office spaces.
Neither City Hall nor the Manchester Center provided details about the project, such as when it may start, who is developing the housing, or how much it will cost.
The Blackstone Plan
Dyer was on hand at The Link @ Blackstone, at the southwest corner of Blackstone and McKinley avenues, to open a new community center, that will be used for senior programs. He discussed the importance of redeveloping Blackstone.
“This project alone will provide our community with more than 400,000 square feet of housing surrounded by ample green and living space not seen anywhere else in our city.” — Fresno City Councilman Nelson Esparza
“Blackstone is the spine of Fresno. It is an area that people travel on a daily basis and it has been historically for retail and commercial. But the future of Blackstone is much more than that. It is about housing,” Dyer said.
He envisions thousands living and shopping along Blackstone and using Bus Rapid Transit to get around.
It is generating excitement from the city councilman for the area, Nelson Esparza.
“Manchester is a critical anchor property along the Blackstone corridor,” Nelson said. “From the very beginning of the discussions, I have been in full support of the New Manchester Center’s vision to transform its existing retail space into mixed-use space. This project alone will provide our community with more than 400,000 square feet of housing surrounded by ample green and living space not seen anywhere else in our city.”
Several housing projects along the Blackstone corridor are in the works. The developers of The Link @ Blackstone also have the Clinton Avenue Apartments project at Blackstone and Clinton. And, the Fresno Housing Authority is developing 41 units at The Arthur at Blackstone and Shields avenues.
New Senior Center
On Monday, Dyer cut the ribbon on the new community center, which will be used mainly by seniors six days a week. The room features bright windows, comfortable couches, and several computers.
Seniors will engage in activities for physical and mental health.
“I really appreciate the community looking after the seniors like they do,” said resident Felicia Mack. “It’s very important for the seniors to have somewhere to go where they can relate to each other, come out to have a nice time instead of being locked up in the house all the time.”