Cottage homes break ground, other Old Town projects in the works

Cottage Home Program gains traction

With the foundation in place, the first tiny home is underway in Clovis near Baron Avenue and Second Street. (City of Clovis)

The city’s first two cottage homes, to be located along alleyways in Old Town, broke ground last month and Clovis Director of Planning Dwight Kroll couldn’t be more excited to see the Cottage Home Program unfold.

“This is a unique opportunity for Old Town residents to earn some equity, maybe cause a positive cash flow from renting or having an Airbnb, and at the same time improve the appearance of our alleys and our downtown area,” Kroll said at a recent city council meeting. “We have 300 potential lots within the Old Town area. Two lots are under construction right now and six permits are out.”

While two of 300 potential lots may not seem like a lot, it’s a fantastic start considering the program was only implemented last fall. Plus, Kroll said the program is gaining such momentum that those outside of the Old Town limits have approached city staff about using one of the city’s three cottage designs for a second home of their properties as well.

“We are getting some inquiries now from areas outside of the central Clovis area,” Kroll said. “State law allows accessory units by right so you have to allow an accessory unit on any residential piece of property. We began thinking this [Cottage Home Program] may be applicable to some areas that are immediately outside the central Clovis area, such as the Stanford addition, where two inquiries have come from. We are going to take an item back to the city council to discuss this option in the future.”

Centennial Plaza brings life to Old Town

Anchored by two new three-story buildings, including the Realty Concepts building shown here, the SoFi District (area south of Fifth Street) has instilled energy into Old Town Clovis. (Ron Sundquist/Clovis Roundup)

The cottage homes are just one element in the works to beautify and revive Old Town.

Centennial Plaza, which broke ground in 2015 and now feature two gorgeous three-story commercial buildings on Pollasky Avenue south of Fifth Street, has brought a surge of activity to the area.

“I think this area adds a lot of emphasis to the downtown area and as things moved along, we’ve seen a lot of use of the plaza,” Kroll said. “I’ve had several people come up to me and comment on how the vibe in the Old Town area has changed. I think we’ve noticed that but when you hear it from the community, that is better. Something is happening and there seems to be a broader spectrum of people coming to Old Town seeking things to do.”

Councilmembers agreed that Centennial Plaza has invigorated Old Town.

“The transformation since we got those two buildings up is amazing,” Lynne Ashbeck said. “I hardly recognize Old Town. When you drive down Clovis Avenue anytime at night you see people and those lamps and the restaurants and it is really unbelievable. It’s really impressive.”

“My wife and I walked along the Old Town Trail on a Sunday, a day when a lot of businesses are shut down in Old Town, but we had a really full and pleasant day which included the obligatory stop by Revival 23, The Foundry, and House of JuJu. We also went to Tactical Ops a little further down the trail. Then we went to On the Edge and enjoyed live music,” Mayor Bob Whalen said. “I know I’m mayor, but there are other people who are taking full advantage of the pedestrian friendliness in the community and the business activity taking place.”

Old Town bike trail coming soon

The official logo of the Old Town Bike Route, which will run along Woodworth Avenue from Barstow leading to the Old Town Trail north of Sierra. (City of Clovis)

Kroll said the future for Old Town will further emphasize the pedestrian friendliness Whalen has enjoyed.

Currently, he said a plan is in the works to create a bike path along Woodworth Avenue from Barstow leading to the Old Town Trail north of Sierra.

“Woodworth is a very wide street and we aren’t sure why. Maybe they needed it to turn wagons around in the early 20th century, but it has a lot of capacity for parking, bike lanes and that kind of traffic,” Kroll said. “Part of the plan was to encourage pedestrian and bicycle traffic, particularly in the south part of Old Town. We are currently working on the program right now. We have the ability to get bike lanes all the way through this so you can take it from Barstow to the trail. There is also another route planned running along Barstow to Fresno State, so this could be a route into the Old Town area.”

Clovis Rodeo Association teams up with city to expand Seventh Street

In Old Town’s SoFi (South of Fifth Street) District, the city plans to team up with the Clovis Rodeo Association to expand Seventh Street to the east side of Clovis Avenue.

“We’ve had conversations with the Clovis Rodeo Association, who purchased the Big H Tire location,” Kroll said. “The board calls me about once a month asking where I’m at because they are ready to install Seventh Street east in line with Seventh Street west of Clovis Avenue. They want to partner with us because we have the ability to use some of our funds within the public right-of-way.”

Clovis Rodeo Association board member Vince Genco said realigning and expanding Seventh Street will allow the rodeo grounds to have its own entrance separate from the nearby Clark Intermediate School campus and the water tower parking lot. This, he said, will also mitigate safety concerns the rodeo association has, particularly with the crowds that come during Thursday and Friday of the Clovis Rodeo, which can coincide with when Clark Intermediate students are released from school in the afternoon.

“We purchased the Big H property specifically to realign Seventh Street so it comes directly into our grounds and we have a separate driveway during the rodeo,” Genco said. “It is really a safety measure because the school is right there. It gets very busy during the rodeo and big events and if it’s a weekday, with the school right there, there are safety concerns. That is exposure we want to get rid of. We don’t have a timeline right now, we are waiting for the city because they have agreed to help with curb and gutter. Hopefully the school district will work with us too.”

Kroll said the city is waiting to break ground on the Landmark Commons project (the new senior center and transit hub) along Third Street before starting the new project. This will not only cover curb and gutter for the east side of Seventh Street, but make such improvements on other portions of the east side of Clovis Avenue between Third and Seventh. Ideally, Kroll said the city would also like to install a flashing light pedestrian crosswalk at Seventh Street also, so drivers know they’ve arrived in Old Town and need to slow down. This, he said, would also connect the rodeo grounds and water tower parking lot with Old Town by providing a clear path of direction to the SoFi area.

With Landmark Commons and several improvements by Clovis Veterans Memorial District in the works on the north side of Old Town, Kroll said a few years from now it will be really exciting to see how Old Town comes together.