Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Running Wild... Horse

On Monday's Valley Black Talk on KFCF 88.1 FM, the show talked about the current status of the Trump-Running Horse saga. In the program, Council District 3 Chief of Staff, Greg Barfield called in to talk about the current process, provide some facts addressing some of the rumors circulating in the community, and to speak about possible scenarios relating to Running Horse. As reported by the Fresno Bee, Trump has requested back the $1M deposit delivered earlier this month. Barfield stated those funds would be used to go after the seven (7) parcels needed but not owned to complete the Running Horse Project as currently planned. This doesn't mean Trump has completely back out of the deal, conversely it's the opposite.

In addition, Barfield touched a couple of issues that would explain for the some the added complications to the project:
  1. All parcels needed to complete the development are not owned by the project

  2. Some of the land within the project has owner options, of which some are owned by Mick Evans, the seller of the Running Horse

  3. Most of the land encompassed within Running Horse does not nor will it incorporated under the scope of influence of the Fresno Redevelopment Agency (Project Area Map)

The third item is a major bump based on the conversations between the City administration and the Trump team. As stated by Barfield and reported in the Fresno Bee, we have known since 2003 that the Running Horse Project was outside of the redevelopment project area. According to the CA Redevelopment Association, a project area can't be expanded without amending the survey area that requires qualifying that proposed area as 'blighted'. The Fresno RDA recently reported, after being asked by the City administration to evaluate the possibility to incorporate Running Horse into the project area, that it would not qualify as blighted. This was done rightly so, backing up the the previous 2003 assessment that determined the area, which was primarily ag. land, did not "consist of the physical and economic conditions that caused a reduction of, or lack of, proper utilization of that area" (e.g. High business vacancies, low commercial leases /high turnover rates, odd shaped lots, or Unsafe access into buildings or parking lots).

The only possible thread to justify blight would be "incompatible adjacent or nearby uses of land parcels that hinder economic activity" or "vacant and underutilized land or buildings" as defined by the CA Redevelopment Association. If these assessments were made before the housing boom and the adaption of the 2025 General Plan that has pushed development southward, they may have worked. Time will tell, if Mayor Autry and the City will be able to influence state legislators to promptly move on incorporating the Running Horse into Fresno redevelopment project area. Again, redevelopment is never a quick fix solution and changes are mandated by the public process, taking anywhere from 12-18 months. If Trump has the patience and commitment as his daughter, Ivanka has stated, the change can happen to the project's overall financial benefit.

These are just some of the issues Councilmember Cynthia Sterling has to consider as she deals with the economic future of her district. Do you have thoughts, concerns or unanswered questions that you like to share with her or the Trump team? On Tuesday, August 13 you will have your chance. Sterling has arranged a town hall meeting for the project stakeholders-- the Trump team, the City and the community as reported on Valley Black Talk.

Running Horse Town Hall Meeting

August 13, 2007 - 6 PM

Greater Macedonia Church

1825 S. Delno, Fresno, CA 93706

(one block west of Fruit, between Kearney Blvd. Ave. and California Ave.)

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