An application to transform part of Manchester Center into housing offers a view into the project Mayor Jerry Dyer talked about last November while also revealing that it bears his political mantra.
The One Fresno at Manchester Center project filed with the city shows the transformation planned for what was once Fresno’s largest mall.
For those who don’t follow politics, “One Fresno” is Dyer’s go-to-banner for rallying support for his efforts.
Documents Paint Picture of What’s Planned at Mall
The first phase calls for 221 studio and one-bedroom apartments across three buildings. An application for zoning clearance states the project will total 610 units.
The 24-acre property at Blackstone and Shields avenues will keep a significant amount of retail space (112,000 square feet). There will be 11,500 square feet of office and 44,000 square feet of storage space. The common area will have a new swimming pool —if the project moves forward as planned.
Project applications are currently under review.
Right now, the property is zoned for commercial regional, but the proposed use does not require a conditional-use permit as most housing developments in California are done “by-right” — including this one.
What’s unknown is the relationship between the city of Fresno and Manchester Center’s owners — Beverly Hills-based Omninet Capital. A mayor’s spokeswoman told GV Wire to file a public records request to obtain more information on the project.
In November, Dyer told GV Wire: “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.”
Manchester Center’s Ups and Downs
In the 1940s, the land that Manchester occupies was envisioned as the future home for Fresno State, which at the time was at what is now Fresno City College.
Fresno State moved to northeast Fresno instead and the former fig orchard was transformed by 1953 into Manchester Center, which beckoned customers with “free parking for 4,000 cars” and bragged that wherever you lived in the Valley, “all roads lead to Manchester Center.”
But, with new competition from the Fashion Fair Mall farther north, Manchester lost its shine after two decades and was reborn for a spell as “Manchester Mall.”
In 2016, the owners of then-Manchester Mall announced the renovation of the property and a return to the name “Manchester Center.” A new façade, entrance, and strip mall were constructed, as well as a new marquis. Since then, Chipotle and Habit Burger, among others have come to the retail pad along north Blackstone.
Within the mall, however, occupancy has largely relied on government and educational tenants. CalTrans occupies a significant portion of the complex. as does Crescent View West charter school.
In addition, the former Sears attached to Manchester Center was split between Ross Dress for Less and dd’s Discounts.