Fresno is poised to accept a major, if not historic infusion of $250 million of state general fund dollars for downtown and the high-speed rail station area, if the state legislature goes along with the Governor’s latest budget plan.
The funds, according to the May Revise budget released Friday morning, are designated for revenue stability in counties with high unemployment and high poverty. The $250 million is set aside for the City of Fresno’s Public Infrastructure Plan in downtown, which includes parking structures, parks, water infrastructure, and plans to improve walkability.
Gov. Gavin Newsom commended the “incredible work and planning” done in Fresno, when presenting the budget revisions at a Friday press conference. “They’re teed up and ready to do something transformational,” he added.
At a Friday afternoon press conference, Mayor Jerry Dyer announced the funding would include:
- $80 million for infrastructure investments that promote building more housing and revitalizing neighborhoods
- $70 million for two new parking structures, adding an additional 2,000 parking stalls, nearly doubling current city parking capacity, according to the Mayor
- $20 million for an intermodal transit center, connecting high-speed rail, city, and regional buses
- $20 million for street and sidewalk improvements that enhance walkability, including in Chinatown
- $25 million for stormwater infrastructure
- $15 million for pocket parks and linear parks
- $10 million for sewer line upgrades along Fresno and Merced Streets
- $10 million for a water main along H and F Streets
Dyer stressed the need for stormwater infrastructure and parking structures to incentivize developers to build more housing downtown. Aging infrastructure has been a barrier for developers to create homes in a part of the city that otherwise has very liberal zoning – ministerial approvals and no density caps, to be precise – for housing. The city’s goal is to accelerate the building of 10,000 new homes downtown, he added.
“We want people to move downtown. That’s going to require housing. And housing’s going to require infrastructure,” Dyer said.
“This project not only will help revitalize downtown Fresno but benefit the entire Valley and its economy,” said Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula, whose district includes downtown Fresno.
City officials have been working on plans to improve the downtown area, especially around the proposed high-speed rail station, for over a decade.
City public utilities director Brock Buche said at the press conference Friday that the investments couldn’t come at a better time, especially with a plan to study downtown water and sewer infrastructure needs in more detail coming before the city council on May 25.
Mayor Jerry Dyer also added that beyond the $250 million, the city also has a pending request for another $44 million in infrastructure funding for downtown.
“Great cities, have great downtowns. We can’t be a great city, without a great downtown,” said Fresno mayor Jerry Dyer.