There are some big, burning questions as to what’s in store for Fresno and the central San Joaquin Valley next year.
With those questions in mind (and my tongue firmly in cheek) I asked some Fresnans to predict what will happen (or not) in 2018. I offer the answers here, with along with a few ideas of my own, for entertainment purposes only, obviously.
▪ Danny Salas predicts the first major concert announcement of 2018. It’s a hip-hop team-up of Kanye West and Jay-Z.
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“The ‘Sorry, No Refunds,’ tour will be announced for the Save Mart Center in late spring,” says Salas, a DJ and assistant program director at Fresno radio station Q97.1.
If you missed the punchline, West canceled his Saint Pablo tour the day before its scheduled Fresno stop in December 2016.
Jay-Z did better. He gave three days’ notice before he called the Fresno date on his 4:44 tour in November.
To be fair, both offered ticket refunds.
▪ On the economic front, Salas sees Fresno taking a turn for the worse, thanks to the California High-Speed Rail Authority pushing forward on the first stretches of the statewide bullet-train line.
“More local businesses will fall victim to eminent domain, further transforming Central California into Detroit from ‘RoboCop,’” he says.
Well, I’d buy that for a dollar.
▪ Things aren’t as bleak for Mike Seay, a local podcaster /pop culture commentator who blogs at The Fresnan. He predicts the city will actually begin to see tangible results from high-speed rail construction in 2018, “things like the Highway 99 moveover and downtown construction.”
“Hopefully the rest of California will start getting that it’s real,” he says.
▪ Seay won’t speculate on the outcome of the city’s “Hail Mary football pass” of a pitch to retail online giant Amazon to build its second world headquarters in Fresno, but says it will continue to be on people’s minds. “If we find out Amazon Headquarters 2 is moving here, nothing will be bigger,” he says.
That would be the understatement of 2018.
▪ Seay has no problem speculating on happenings within Fresno’s city council.
“One or more, likely more, Fresno city councilmen will say something or do something really stupid, causing the rest of us to think, ‘Does the Portland City Council have this issue? Maybe I should move there, too.’ ”
“Large buildings that have sat vacant for years will continue to undergo major renovations,” she says. “However, there will be an increase in smaller investors and business owners entering the downtown real estate market,” she says.
▪ Which leads me to borrow a prediction from last year: The strip of reopened Fulton Street that runs through downtown will see interest (and investment) from a business people will recognize. It just won’t be a Trader Joes, Regal Cinema or one of those micro Targets they have in other urban areas (although how bleeding awesome would it be to have a Target on the bottom floor of the Helm building?).
No, this will be more mundane. The likely candidate is Starbucks. Or Peet’s Coffee, if we’re lucky.
Other predictions for 2018:
▪ We won’t see the return of Livingstone’s – or Stone’s, as it’s known to the throngs of loyal fans desperately missing a place to hang out while visiting the family this holiday season. Yes, last week workers were on site installing drywall and the official goal is to have the restaurant open in February.
It’s been almost a year to the day since the Tower District landmark was gutted by fire. Even then, owners promised a quick reopening. They’ve been saying as much ever since. In August, the restaurant was four to eight weeks from reopening. In September, the owners were hopeful they could open Thanksgiving weekend.
“I’d pay a million bucks to have my old dingy dive bar back,” said one of the owners at the time.
She is not alone.
▪ You’ll be able to buy cannabis in Fresno.
But you better be really sick and ready to jump through hoops. Fresno’s city council ended the year with a unanimous vote to begin the process of rewriting the city’s ban on commercial marijuana operations. The sale and recreational use of cannabis will be legal in California beginning Jan. 1, but the council voted in August to to ban retail dispensaries and other businesses within the city.
The latest vote opens the door for medical dispensaries and other businesses in the supply chain, but leaves plenty of opportunity for the city to set strict boundaries on the where and how. So don’t expect it to be easy, or come without more hours-long debates from the dais.
That’s without accounting for any pressure from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. See: Mayor Lee Brand’s stand on the sanctuary cities debate.
One last look at 2017
The most-read stories by Fresno Bee staff in 2017:
- 1. Three dead in Fresno shooting rampage; suspected gunman linked to killing of motel guard
- 2. Have a cell phone against your ear? You should consider putting it down
- 3. As a 16-year-old, he befriended younger girls and pimped them out for sex
- 4. Fresno’s No. 2 cop was ‘deep undercover’ when he talked of buying cop, attorney says
- 5. It’s Joey Chestnut, on top of the taco-eating world
- 6. When that nice, young man who gave you a ride to the gas station turns out to be Derek Carr
- 7. Gunfight at east-central Fresno home leaves three dead, one wounded
- 8. This gang member got arrested. Why are strangers offering to pay her bail?
- 9. Agents seized 500 guns from a Clovis family. After a court fight, they got them back
- 10. Jay-Z concert in Fresno abruptly canceled; local rap music fans miss out again