The south side of Fresno’s Manchester Center is starting to go gray – a sign of the renovation work that has taken over parts of the aging mall in recent months.
Benjamin Nazarian, managing partner for Beverly Hills-based Omninet Capital, which owns the mall, has more to share since he led a groundbreaking ceremony in September to officially start the shopping center’s transformation.
Here’s a look at what’s happening: Two big poles were installed behind the mall, near Highway 41, for a new digital pylon sign. The sign will help market businesses inside the mall, especially the new marketplace tenants – the chefs and their food, Nazarian said during a visit to the mall Feb. 8.
The sign is expected to be ready by the end of March.
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Crews have been working to demolish the inside of the old Gottschalks store on the backside of Manchester for the marketplace, an artisan food community. The 45,000-square-foot space was stripped down to the concrete pillars and floors. Several escalators and the elevator that ran in the middle of the store were taken out, said Moe Bagunu, mall manager. The skylight remains.
The marketplace, an indoor and outdoor space, will have a modern farm style theme to reflect Fresno’s agricultural business and history. Shoppers and diners can expect to see exposed steel beams on the ceiling, string lights, metals and reclaimed wood in the marketplace. There will be communal farmhouse tables to encourage people to meet and talk. The restaurants will also have seating at their counters.
“Our main goal is to make it something that feels like it’s always been here,” said designer Dorothy Macik from Los Angeles.
Demolition is finished and the marketplace is in the final permitting stages. Construction is expected to begin in a couple months. Nazarian is shooting for a late summer or early fall opening.
Ten restaurants have signed on and two others are in the works, but there is room for more. The latest restaurant added to the marketplace is Mariscos Las Adas Manzanillo. The others include: Green’s Family Grill, Grids & Grounds, Med Wraps Café, Pineapple Kitchen, Rocket Dog Gourmet Brats & Brew, The Smokin’ Burrito, Southern Twist, Tomo’s Japanese, and Yummyz Street Treats. The Bee’s food columnist, Bethany Clough, has more details about the restaurants in this story.
The marketplace will flow into an outdoor event plaza that will be built in the parking area between the mall and Regal Manchester Stadium 16.
“What we are hoping for is when a family comes to Manchester, it’s not that they just want to sit and eat,” Nazarian said. The hope is “they want to stay here and enjoy the day with us.”