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Clovis plan hopes to reshape downtown to attract more dining, shops and college students

A shopper walks past storefronts in Old Town Clovis in 2014. The Clovis City Council approved a plan Monday, Nov. 7, it hopes will make its downtown area a better place for living, dining and entertainment.
A shopper walks past storefronts in Old Town Clovis in 2014. The Clovis City Council approved a plan Monday, Nov. 7, it hopes will make its downtown area a better place for living, dining and entertainment. Fresno Bee Staff Photo

Clovis has plans to make its downtown area a better place for living, dining and entertainment.

On Monday night, the City Council approved a new Central Clovis Specific Plan, which covers 676 acres bounded by Minnewawa, Sunnyside, Barstow, Sierra avenues and Highway 168 where it meets the Old Town Trail. The long-term plan is supposed to cover the city over the next 30 years.

The city is proposing new bicycle lanes, additional pedestrian walkways and more housing by adding units to larger underused single-family home lots.

Part of the plan is to make the downtown area more attractive to college students, those who may attend San Joaquin College of Law, the California Health Sciences University and Fresno State, said Dwight Kroll, city planning director.

The city’s planning department conducted a “visioning process” with a 15-member citizen’s advisory committee, city staff, the planning commission and city council members to evaluate ways to improve and continue revitalizing Old Town Clovis.

Kroll said the plan is an attempt to build on the successes the city has had in the past 30 years that turned Old Town Clovis into a central meeting place and heart of the city. A 76-page city document outlines the plan, which Kroll said “preserves Old Town and builds on it.”

An important component, he said, is reinvestment in residential development because more residents in Old Town will improve the business environment.

“We have a lot of underutilized residential property that could benefit from development and Old Town Clovis could benefit from having additional residents,” he said. “It would all be within walking distance to shopping and Old Town.”

The concept of “alley-loaded” neighborhoods comes from the city of Davis, Kroll said. The focus for residential growth is south of Bullard Avenue to Barstow Avenue, west of Clovis Avenue and east of Minnewawa. The intention is to create a community of student housing or homes for professionals who don’t want to maintain yards.

He said the district will “allow for second units on the back (yards) of homes that face onto the alleys” to double density without the outward appearance of doubling density.

The city’s plan, for example, is to narrow Bullard Avenue to two lanes of traffic with bike lanes and a center left turn lane. The plan also would add entry monuments at Minnewawa Avenue with unique street signs and lighting. The city also proposes to widen pedestrian walkways and shade them with trees.

To continue that student theme the city plans to upgrade its bicycle lanes and use alleys as pedestrian friendly “tiny street” neighborhoods.

Another concept is to develop “subdistricts,” areas for shopping, entertainment, eating or business that would allow visitors parking a few blocks from their destinations to find other activities before they reach, or return from, their intended chore.

The targeted commercial uses include more outdoor and patio dining in an entertainment district, Kroll said.

Marc Benjamin: 559-441-6166, @beebenjamin

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