Thursday, June 28, 2007

A West Fresno with Trump?

So now that the Donald Trump deal with Running Horse is closer to being a reality, we have to begin to ask what will West Fresno look like with a billionaire touch? Members of the West Fresno community were excited five plus years ago when the prospects of the Running Horse first appeared that later spurred the interest of developers and land owners to potentially build a planned 3000 new homes in the area. Those dreams began to fade as the project continuously ran into financial woes. There seems to be a savior in the Trump offer. In a messiah-type fashion, it appears Running Horse has resurrected on the third offer. But will it bring redemption or damnation? In an effort to develop the area in true Trump style, it is said that he want a larger footprint that closer 5,600 acres. That area is more than 10 times larger than the current Running Horse project that would include both residential and commercial developments spanning from Fruit Ave to Brawley, Annadale to the south and Belmont to the north.

How would this happen given that are hundreds of homes and businesses within that landscape? There are two basic options: (1) Trump buys out each individual land owner; or (2) the City acquires the land and negotiates some deal with Trump to obtain it. In the first scenario, Trump would have to negotiate with possibly hundreds of land owners who could hold out for a big pay-day or refuse to sell out right. Mr. Deal Maker does not have the time or financial desire to engage in such activities. That’s where Option 2 becomes ideal. The City through the Redevelopment Agency could buy the land (all City-proper 93706 is a redevelopment area) from owners whether they desired to sell it or not through eminent domain. In turn, the City could sell it to Trump at the purchase price, the market value or at a discount like the GAP distribution center land sale for $1. But before I just leave the bad taste of eminent domain in your mouth, understand that it’s no quick fix. The process is lengthy, tedious and can be just as costly as a conventional real estate process due to the regulations imposed to protect the resident and/or current land owner.

A few other questions to ponder:

  • What could West Fresno look like?
  • We, as residents ask for the City and land developers to consider our community but are we willing to accept the changes to the community—demographics, social and neighborhood composition?
  • How can this become a win-win-win situation for the community, the city of Fresno and investors/developer involved?

There are individuals with legitimate fears of how these changes may affect their community and more specifically their livelihood. Those who have planted their families and businesses in West Fresno may refer to the glory day of the Golden West Side, where the community flourished with local retailers and businesses that catered to the area’s predominately African-American population due to social and civil limitation placed on that group. It was the same time when it was socially unacceptable for ethnic minorities to go north of railroad tracks leading into downtown Fresno without scrutiny let alone north Fresno or Clovis. Today, West Fresno is very different place—the community is reflective of the city, county and state with Latinos comprising 60% of the neighborhood along with a large Southeast Asian population (2000 Census); a much lower rate of homeownership over the history of the community and comparative to the rest of the city; relatively high rates of unemployment; and schools that lack the proper resources to prepare students for academic success and productive professional careers.

The community is in need of a drastic change

I am of the belief that a Trump development could be the catalyst to the economic resurrection of West Fresno. There are many unanswered questions that Trump, the City and West Fresno residents will need to resolve to make this a mutually benefit project. I hope all parties will move forward in a way to will allow productive and honest dialogue.

Thoughts? Am I completely off –base? I welcome your comments.


Ron Torres said...

I do not believe you are off base, Nate. Back in 2004, we were looking for a place to invest in Fresno. Rather than go with the flow to the San Joaquin River, we checked out West Fresno and specifically, Running Horse. I drove around the area from downtown to Kearney Park and I could visualize that the future of Fresno was here. We purchased a lot in Kearney Estates, the first phase of Running Horse. Three years later, our home is not yet complete. We are looking at completion in August or September 2007.

The road has been very challenging, bumpy, and our investment has ended up costing us more than we originally planned. Yet, we are not sorry. I could not have imagined that someone like Trump would also see the same vision for the area. We are even more excited now than before because while Tom O'Meara and Scott Webb (original Running Horse owners) did not have the cash flow to make the vision a reality, Trump guarantees it. Yes, West Fresno will be different from what it has been in the past and what it is today. Change is always challenging. But after years of bemoaning the desertion of residents (and their money) from the center city to the far flung northern suburbs, here is an opportunity to "turn the tables," so to speak.

Active participation by local residents will help to shape the future of the area into something very special and exciting. We have the amazing opportunity to be involved from the ground up. Let's make the most of it.

Anonymous said...

The residents of that area will not improve. You can give them money, they will just waste it. It will never change.

Anonymous said...

Im not willing to lose my home,that is debt free for,the purpose of polititions,billionares to get rich .