In 2015 I started a personal project, documenting changes to businesses, buildings and details as downtown Fresno’s six-block pedestrian mall was re-converted to a two-lane road—the City’s attempt to spur new economic activity in the area. Early in that project, I met Hak, who owns (now owned) a dress shop near the center of the mall. I’ve stopped in to talk with Hak several times over the last few years, as construction blocked access to many of the storefronts, as it cleared and cars returned, and most recently, as he cleared out inventory to close up the store for good. In December, Hak told me he’s ready to retire—that the new street didn’t bring in the amount of business it promised, but also that business never really recovered from the financial collapse of 2008. After three decades on the Fulton Mall, and now faced with a tripling of his rent, he’s focusing his energy on his family.
Many new businesses have moved on to Fulton since construction was completed, and new investment can definitely be seen—as can more closings from businesses that had been on the former mall for years.