Dream a Little Dream

A wonderful bouquet of flowers.Bitwise Industries: “In downtown alone, hundreds of lofts will become thousands. Eateries will line the streets. Nightlife will spring up. And on Sunday mornings, the thirty-somethings will sit outside sipping coffee from that shop on Fulton Street and tell tales of how people used to scoff at the notion of downtown revitalization.”

I love this vision. I’ve been dreaming of a vibrant Fresno downtown since we moved back from Seattle in 1997. I loved stepping outside the office and having everything within walking distance. Restaurants and shops, so many to choose from. Scores of people going about their business. It was a beautiful experience and I miss it.

If you’re looking to relocate or build you should consider downtown Fresno. There are amazing old buildings everywhere waiting for someone to show them a little TLC and make them wonderful again. If you need someone to show you, drop me a line, I’ll show you some of my favorites.

Oh, Bitwise has also gone a long way toward fixing this issue. The valley is now very different because of their efforts.

Thank you Irma and Jake — and everyone else involved behind the scenes – you’ve given me hope for a revitalized downtown.

P.S. – Can you guys try to convince Alamo Drafthouse to add a location downtown? I know the perfect space for it! Thanks!

Bitwise on Transforming Fresno

Bitwise Industries: “It’s tempting to think that what we’re doing at Bitwise Industries is about buildings or technology or companies. Those are incredible byproducts of what we’re trying to achieve, but that’s not our game. Bitwise is about humans. We’re about their stories, and empowering the next generation of ambitious people to do awesome stuff in Fresno.”

This is why I named Bitwise, Irma, and Jake as A few of my favorite things. Their undying love of people and community. They’ve built something special in Fresno.

Thank you, Irma and Jake.

Fresno’s Fulton Mall

Fresno Bee: “For a spell, the plan worked. The mall was packed, and commerce thrived. Some businesses bragged that sales had risen by 40%. But by the end of the 1980s, all the major retailers were gone, their spaces filled by discount stores — or nothing at all.

It’s time now for the Fresno City Council to end this noble but unsuccessful venture and approve Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s plan to return vehicle traffic to Fulton.

The mayor has secured $16 million in federal grants to turn the six-block pedestrian mall into a two-way street — one with beautiful landscaping and sidewalks wide enough to accommodate the people who work and shop there now.”

I’m one of the folks that believes in the Fulton Mall. The plan to rip it out makes me sick. I don’t know what else to say.

This won’t fix downtown. For a thriving downtown you need to attract people, people that need services. How does ripping out the mall magically make businesses and, more importantly, people show up? Sure, it will attract a crowd, for a while, human curiosity and all, but what happens next? Where is the real plan? The plan to attract businesses and people downtown? That seems more important.

Remember the stadium project? That was supposed to fix downtown. Did it? No, it did not. What makes city leaders believe one street will fix it?

If they do this, I hope it works, but I just can’t see it happening and we will have lost yet another unique space in the Valley.

Real Companies, Not Bubbles

The Fresno Bee: “The competition impressed San Francisco developer Joel Franusic, one of five judges for the event. Franusic said Fresno’s developers seem to care less about trying to lay claim as the next Mark Zuckerberg — Facebook’s multibillionaire founder — than about producing high-quality projects.”

Bravo.

Fulton Mall Fiasco

Huffington Post: “The site is being re-examined and this past October three options for remaking the mall (narrowed down from 10) were unveiled — two could significantly destroy the character of the mall by opening it up to cars with a traditional street or inserting two lanes of road and curbs weaving them through some of the outdoor “vignettes” while demolishing others. The third, complete restoration, is most likely not economically viable. The one really sensible solution — keeping four of the six streets closed to cars while opening many of the cross streets, a realistic compromise balancing design, historic preservation and economics — inexplicably seems to have been abandoned.”

I wonder if someone believes that tearing Fulton Mall apart will actually help downtown?

The city needs to work a whole lot harder to attract a large employer downtown. A modern, younger, company that will encourage other companies to relocate. Naive? Yep.

Hashtag Fresno, Open for Business

Fresnobeehive.com: “Co-founders Travis Sheridan and Irma Olguin, Jr. saw that other cities had such spaces, and felt Fresno’s creatives needed their own place: something better than a coffee shop, yet more accessible than an Executive Suite. They envision their space fostering creativity, collaboration and community.”

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it’s official, Hashtag Fresno is open for business! They even have their new, very stylish, website up. I like the green.

Our roving reporter, Mr. Jerry Fahrni, snapped this picture just yesterday.

Time to get downtown and give it a look.

More on #Hashtag Fresno

The Hashtag, #1298Fresno Famous: “It will be open and available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. It will have strong, reliable internet access, modular desk units — and couches and a bar-sitting area — and plenty of dry-erase boards for anyone looking to collaborate. Plus, it’s sandwiched between a coffee shop and a bakery, across the street from a pizza parlor and on the route of a major bus line.”

I hope, beyond hope, this is extremely successful. It’s nice to have a place to go full of creative people when you’re working alone.

There are 14 Genius Adopter subscriptions left, only $200.00 for one year. Get ’em while they’re hot!

Fresno Co-Working; @Hashtag_Fresno

HASHTAG Fresno: “A new collaborative co-work, hackerspace in the crazy Tower District. Caffeine, internet, and people like you. 24 hour access. Pizza across the street. Coffee next door.”

Makes me wish I were an Indie Developer! For $29.00/month you get a space to work with other creative people. Absolutely brilliant idea! Sure, I know it’s not new, but it’s needed in Fresno. There are a lot of creatives and developers there, they’re just hiding. Hopefully this brings them out into the open.

I know I’ve called Fresno a Technology Black Hole, but that one post made me realize Fresno has a large collective of great designers and developers, and probably generated more great reader commentary than any other post on my weblog.

I ♥ HASHTAG Fresno, just for taking the leap of faith and giving this a go.

Be sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and don’t miss the 59 Days of Code kickoff tonight, 10PM at HASHTAG Fresno.

Old Fresno Brewing Co.

Historical Perspectives: [hat tip Derek Scharton]“Just as the office is a monument to a different era, the brewery that used to reside at the foot of M Street once was a vast testament to a burgeoning city. Built in 1900, it became the largest brewery in the Valley, employing 1,000 workers and pumping out enough beer to help quench the thirsts within the city’s 50 saloons.”

The Great Valley had some amazing businesses at one time. The article is beautifully written and worth a read. Make sure you check out the collection of pictures at the bottom.