Local

Resurrecting Running Horse plan takes shape

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

After years of promised opportunity and financial failure, the Running Horse property is now being brought back to life. The tract of hundreds of acres off Whitesbridge and Marks in Southwest Fresno has a new name, and a new plan. The latest idea to resurrect running horse comes from two Central Valley based farming companies.

Running Horse was supposed to be a luxury home development with a world class golf course and a PGA tour stop. The empty land that's been collecting dirt, weeds and trash is now returning back to what it once was- farmland.

On Tuesday afternoon, construction sounds could be heard for miles; sounds that haven't been heard in that part of Southwest Fresno, for more than five years- ever since Donald Trump walked away from saving Fresno and the Running Horse project. He took his millions and left dreams of a luxury community behind. But dreams are now planted in the form of farmland.

Jeremy Mehling of Maricopa Orchards told Action News, "The expectations of this area were high, but we've raised the bar, it's going to be pretty out here with almonds."

Almonds will now be planted on part of the 360 acres. C&A farms and Hostetler Ranches bought the land in Southwest Fresno. General Manager Darius Assemi, who is also President of Granville Homes, told Action News, it will now be called Mission Ranch.

Assemi said, "We see the opportunity for future residential growth in this area, however, our immediate focus will be on farming and cleaning up the area which has become an eyesore and a dumping ground."

Doug Steiner said, "I think it'll be great, we'll have something in there it won't be just a dirt hole with a bunch of crap in it."

Steiner lives in the subdivision across the street. He sunk his hopes, dreams and money into Running Horse, and gave convicted developer Tom O'Meara thousands of dollars. O'Meara was recently sentenced to more than six years in Federal Prison, for wire fraud and money laundering.

"A golf course. I was supposed to be a charter member," said Steiner. "That cost me $25 grand and it's now in the pockets of the guy doing time down in Palm Springs."

Since then, Steiner has watched ideas come and go. And he's watched dust settle. While it may be a far cry from the luxury development he had hoped it would be, he's happy there's movement, and the new owners of Mission Ranch say, it's about time.

Greg Hostetler, with Hostetler Ranches, said, "This is long overdue to get it cleaned up, it's been inundated by vandalism and junk and a lot of other things going on out here because it's been unattended and in limbo for a number of years."

There's no official timeline for the work out at Mission Ranch, but the growers say they hope to plant by January.

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fresno, fresno county, fresno southwest, local, stephanie stone
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