A historic Fresno toy store transforms into affordable housing. ‘A new chapter.’
FRESNO, Calif. – A cherished hallmark in Fresno history has been restored as part of a new affordable housing development.
The historic “Arthur’s Toy Store” on Blackstone Avenue was founded in 1944. Over the decades, the store has seen a variety of businesses, including AJ’s Tuxedo Shop. But now, it’s been remodeled by the Fresno Housing Authority to combat the longstanding housing issues in the city.
Now renamed ‘The Arthur at Blackstone,’ the housing development has 41 multi-home units targeted for low-income families. The average rent ranges from about $400 to $1,200 a month.
The new development marks the latest housing project in Fresno, where motels and old buildings have been converted into housing to increase the supply of housing.
“We have a housing crisis in the city,” said Fresno city councilmember Nelson Esparza at a press conference Thursday. “While no one has found the silver bullet to figure it out, the Arthur is really chipping away at that crisis.”
Roughly half of the apartments at The Arthur at Blackstone will be reserved for those transitioning out of homelessness or foster homes. The Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health will provide those residents with services such as case management, therapy and peer support.
The legacy of Arthur’s Toy Store
Arthur’s Toy Store was founded and operated by Arthur A. Arthur and his wife Grace in 1944. It quickly became a hallmark in Fresno. By 1950, it was reportedly the largest toy outlet in the state.
According to the Fresno Bee, the store was sold and operated by multiple families – but always remained a hotspot for toy lovers in Fresno.
“Arthur's Toys was a place where children could dream, imagine and play,” said Monica Prinzling, a granddaughter of the original owners.
In 2017, the building was acquired by the Fresno Housing Authority.
Prinzling – who’s also a communications director for CVS Health, a partner of the Fresno Housing Authority – says she’s honored the store can offer “new hope and possibilities for families and young people.”
“I can't think of a better way than for my family legacy to transition to a new chapter that will nurture a healthy, vibrant community for generations to come,” she added.