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More chains coming to Fresno shopping center

Nothing gets Fresno excited like In-N-Out Burger! Enough that Mayor Jerry Dyer and City Councilmember Luis Chavez donned the restaurant’s paper hats to pose for photos with the burgers atop a parking garage in a shopping center about to start construction. In an exclusive interview with The Bee, they and developer Lance-Kashian & Co. confirmed that it’s finally official: In-N-Out is coming to Fancher Creek Town Center at Clovis and Tulare avenues. The popular California drive-thru hamburger restaurant purchased land from the shopping center and agreed to build a location there. But it’s not the only business coming. Several more restaurants and stores are in the works and construction on the first one is expected to start this year. Previously unannounced until now, craft store Michaels has signed a lease to open in the center. It will join grocery store Sprouts Farmers Market, which has also signed a lease to open a location. Construction on the store will likely start in June, depending upon weather, said Tracy Kashian, senior vice president of marketing and public relations. Chipotle Mexican Grill and PetSmart are very close to signing leases, she said. Target is also close to finalizing a purchase to buy the land it will build its own store on. Chick-fil-A, HomeGoods and Starbucks are still in lease negotiations, she said.

If some of this sounds familiar, it’s because word of In-N-Out and some of the other restaurants and stores has been circulating for a year. Councilmember Chavez posted on Facebook that they were coming. But until leases are signed or land is purchased, anything can happen — including a business pulling out. Now In-N-Out is solidly on the track to actually happening.

In addition to buying the land, In-N-Out has filed four permits with the City of Fresno to start work on the 3,887-square-foot restaurant, including grading, landscaping and irrigation. No opening date — even an approximate one — has been shared. Once construction starts, it usually takes the company eight or nine months to build a restaurant and open it. Overall, the first wave of retailers and restaurants will likely open in spring of next year. Sprouts will probably be the first to open.

Of course, there’s a lot more to the 90-acre development than restaurants, — such as senior and affordable housing, a small park, a trail, theater and mom-and-pop businesses. The entire Fancher Creek neighborhood is designed to be walkable. You don’t need a car to get around, Dyer noted. “I think a lot of people are going to be excited about that so they get their double double with cheese,” he said. “Seeing those folks come — and Target — I think that’s going to be a game changer for southeast Fresno, for the residents.”

WHAT ELSE IS IN FANCHER CREEK?

Already, the Brandhaven affordable senior living apartments behind the parking garage are full. The two buildings have 180 units. (The complex is named after former Mayor Lee Brand, and the city paid $2.7 million toward water-system connection fees.)

Nearby, the first phase of Sarah’s Court is under construction. It will have 120 apartments with two or three bedrooms. Another 120 apartments will come later. The city contributed several million in the form of a loan to bring affordable housing to the area. The developers, who built and own River Park, decided to build the affordable housing first because the need was greatest, Kashian said. Next comes the shopping and eating part of the center. In-N-Out will build near the corner of Tulare and Clovis avenues. South of there, along Clovis Avenue and near the canal is where Sprouts and the other retailers in negotiations would locate. An extra lane and traffic light will be added to Clovis Avenue.

Another phase of the center — years down the road — is slated for north of Tulare Avenue and the traffic circle. That section will include a theater.

It will also have small boutiques, locally owned restaurants and host events. That lifestyle center is akin to the part of River Park that’s in front of the theater, whereas the area where Sprouts is going is similar to where Best Buy and other big-box retailers are in River Park, Kashian noted. The housing was deliberately built nearby so people could walk to stores or restaurants or anything else a person might need within a 20-minute walk. “It is geared to be a ‘20-minute neighborhood,’ what’s referred to often times as smart growth, limiting people having to use a vehicle, a car,” Dyer said. “It’s a long time coming.”

Kashian first proposed the project in 2000. A variety of factors caused it to move slowly, including an environmental-impact report that took five or six years, a recession, a switch to focus on the Campus Pointe development, the COVID-19 pandemic and the often sluggish pace of getting leases and permits approved. In the meantime, a Fresno police substation was built nearby, and a transit center is in the works. It will connect to Fresno’s Bus Rapid Transit system, which can quickly take people to downtown and north Blackstone Avenue. Residents of southeast Fresno have long complained about a lack of big retailers and other services.

“I think this will be a gateway to what Fresno is, kind of a symbol of south Fresno and the renaissance that’s occurring here,” said Chavez. “I really see this as southeast Fresno’s crown jewel.”

Read more at: https://www.fresnobee.com/living/food-drink/bethany-clough/article285587762.html#storylink=cpy