Construction vehicles are grading the dirt on the town center portion of the massive Fancher Creek mixed-use regional shopping center in southeast Fresno, bringing the first signs of life to a long-anticipated project poised to rival River Park.
Developer Ed Kashian of Lance Kashian & Co. said work has started to prepare about 90 acres of land along Clovis Avenue, south of Belmont Avenue to the Fancher Creek canal, for underground utilities and then construction of streets.
The work – at a cost of about $35 million – could take a year.
“Before we build the first building, we’re going to have all the streets and all the utilities and everything in place,” Kashian said.
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“We’re moving a lot of ash and a lot of dirt. There won’t be any buildings start until about spring or summer of next year.”
Kashian and developer Tom Richards of The Penstar Group in Fresno first proposed the Fancher Creek development project in 2000. It would serve more than 400,000 people in the southeast portion of the city and those living in neighboring communities like Sanger, Reedley and Parlier.
The project’s environmental impact report took five to six years to get approved, Kashian says. Another two to three years were spent working on a development agreement with the city of Fresno, which describes the responsibilities of both sides.
Other challenges include lawsuits by Fresno, the city of Clovis and Madera County over traffic and air pollution issues. Then, the recession hit, bringing large development projects and business expansion plans to a halt.
Before we build the first building, we’re going to have all the streets and all the utilities and everything in place.
Ed Kashian, developer
When the economy began to recover, Kashian moved forward with his 45-acre Campus Pointe retail and restaurant project at Fresno State. Fancher Creek, meanwhile, underwent a little redesign. A lake, originally proposed as a central feature of the development, was replaced with an open recreational area.
“The Lord decided not to provide us very much rain … so we thought it may not be a good idea to waste water with a lake, so we had to redesign the shopping center,” Kashian said.
The town center could have around 970,000 square feet of commercial and retail space, 740 multifamily housing units, a plaza and recreational areas including a 1.5-mile walking trail along the Fancher Creek canal.
The center is one of three commercial components of the Fancher Creek master-planned community. The others include the Fancher Creek Business Park at Belmont and Fowler avenues and the Village Center, a neighborhood retail center at Kings Canyon Road and Fowler Avenue. Both already have tenants.
Fancher Creek Town Center will have around 970,000 square feet of commercial retail space, offices, residential units, recreational areas and a 1.5-mile walking trail along the Fancher Creek canal.
Once the town center infrastructure is complete, the developers will build a transit center and a police station. Senior housing will follow. The rest of the development will be built according to what the market demands.
“We’re rebranding the whole area,” Kashian said. “It’s not known for safety or cleanliness. The city and the transit station, the police station are an integral part of this thing. I want those built before I do anything else.”
Fresno City Council Member Sal Quintero, who represents southeast Fresno, said his office has received calls from the public about the Fancher Creek development for years.
“I think it’s really going to make folks excited to see some land being moved there,” Quintero said. “There’s a lot of anticipation to start seeing something happen.”
We’re really working on it. I’ve put a lot of money, a lot of time into it. I’m going to get it done.
Once construction begins, the rest of the neighborhood will follow with new businesses moving in or renovating their buildings, Quintero said.
Kashian and his team welcome input from residents on what they want to see at Fancher Creek. The company asked for suggestions to fill empty spaces at River Park and got responses that helped drive two popular businesses to town: H&M clothing store and Dave and Buster’s restaurant and entertainment business.
“We’re really working on it,” Kashian said. “I’ve put a lot of money, a lot of time into it. I’m going to get it done.”