Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Real Estate: Habitat dedicates two homes in southeast Fresno


Photo by ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE. (Left to right. Yer Yang with her husband Vang Her, stands next to Boonma Vang and his wife, PaDee Xiong.)

Habitat for Humanity Fresno County will hold a dedication ceremony on Saturday to celebrate the completion of two new homes for the Vang Her and Boonma Vang families of Fresno.

Her and Vang were neighbors in the Wat Tham Krabok refugee camp in Thailand before both resettled in Fresno separately in 2004.

They were reunited last summer when both families learned that they would once again be neighbors in the Little Long Cheng subdivision in southeast Fresno.

Read the full story here about their living conditions in the camp and their journey to homeownership.

The dedication ceremony starts at 1 p.m. at East Garrett and Willow avenues.


Real Estate: Granville begins new phases of existing developments

Granville Homes has made a lot of noise building apartments in downtown Fresno but has quietly worked on finishing the last few houses in its existing single-family home neighborhoods while other builders have introduced new developments in the Fresno and Clovis market.

That’s left us wondering when Granville – led by president Darius Assemi whose family was recently announced as a Valley Business Award recipient – will unveil a new single-family home project.

The builder has answered with not one, but three neighborhoods.

  • Rio Belleza is a continuation of the La Ventana development at Bullard and Grantland avenues west of Highway 99 in Fresno. The 61-lot neighborhood will have homes that range in size from 1,630 to 3,483 square feet with a starting price of $234,998. Single-story homes with three bedrooms and two bathrooms are available and large two-story homes with up to seven bedrooms, four bathrooms and a four-car garage.
  • On the other side of town is Tuscan Villas at Fowler and Church avenues in southeast Fresno. The 118-lot neighborhood is a gated community with homes that range in size from 1,603 to 2,300 square feet. Prices start at $209,950.
  • New homes will also be built just west of Tuscan Villas at Green Park in Sunnyside Grove, another phase of an existing development. The 213-lot neighborhood has spacious lots and a neighborhood park and walking trail. The houses range in size from a 1,603 square foot, three bedroom and two bathroom home to a 3,076 square foot house with six bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. The price begins at $219,950.

Granville Eco-Smart Technology and solar comes standard in all homes. Visit for more information.

Real Estate: FedEx plans to build new distribution center in Fresno

FedEx is expanding in Fresno.

The global shipping company, which has a distribution center on Willow Avenue, is planning to double in size and move to a new location.

The company will build a 198,000-square-foot shipping center at East North and South East avenues in southwest Fresno.  Construction is expected to be completed by July 2014, the company said in a written statement.

“The new facility will replace an existing facility nearby, allowing us to continue to meet and exceed customer demands in the region,” the company said.

Employees will move to the new building once it opens and the company will add new jobs as needed.

The building is a welcome sight for the commercial industry which has seen little new construction in the last few years.

Last week, Grubb & Ellis/Pearson Commercial also announced some construction activity in the same area. A 96,000-square-foot industrial warehouse is being built at the 230-acre North Pointe Business Park.


Yosemite plans $15 million makeover at Mariposa Grove

Yosemite National Park has a $15 million plan to make Mariposa Grove and its 484 mature giant sequoias a healthier place for the big trees, moving asphalt and structures away from their extensive roots.

Read the draft environmental documents and comment to the National Park Service by May 7.

The plan, which will be funded by the Yosemite Conservancy, is to rip out the lower parking lot and gift shop to get them off the widespread, shallow root system of the giants.

Most parking will be moved two miles away to the South Entrance, where shuttle buses will give visitors a free lift to the trees.

The Park Service wants to kick off  the facelift in time to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the grove’s protection in a federal law signed by Abraham Lincoln. The anniversary will be in June 2014.

“It was landmark legislation,” said restoration ecologist Sue Beatty, who is working on the project.

The work here is reminiscent of the makeover in Giant Forest during the 1990s when Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks removed many buildings to protect the trees.

Most of the remaining 75 groves in the world are located in the southern Sierra at Sequoia-Kings or in the Sequoia National Monument. They are considered the world’s largest tree with a life span of more than 2,000 years.

The Mariposa Grove is the largest of Yosemite’s three giant sequoia groves.

Translating Rubio’s final interview as senator

With politicians, there’s always a super-secret context to everything they say.

Take, for example, former state Sen. Michael Rubio’s comments at last Wednesday’s Fresno Bee editorial board meeting.

I taped his comments. Everything was on the record. Being an army veteran who ate his share of SOS breakfasts, I’m able to find the super-secret context to his statements.

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Nikiko Masumoto keeps the Valley in touch with Japanese American history

(Photo by Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee. Nikiko Masumoto performs “What We Could Carry.”)

Nikiko Masumoto is a peach farmer and public arts performer.

During the day, Masumoto helps her father, David Mas Masumoto, on the family’s Del Rey farm where they grow peaches, nectarines and grapes.

And in the evening and weekends, Nikiko Masumoto visits libraries and schools where she performs “What We Could Carry” – a play she wrote about the experiences of Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps during World War II.

Masumoto performed the play during the annual Day of Remembrance and Installation luncheon hosted by the Central California District Council of the Japanese American Citizens League on Feb. 17. Read my story about her performance and the luncheon here.

Since then, I’ve gotten a number of phone calls and emails – including one from a former teacher – who all wanted to know when she will perform locally again.

Masumoto is working with Willow International Community College Center in Clovis on an April 19 performance. No word yet on what time.

But you can visit her blog at whatwecouldcarry.wordpress to keep up with her work and her performance schedule.

Continue below for more about Masumoto’s play.

Continue reading →

Real Estate: Housing affordability falls as home prices rise

Housing affordability inched up in Fresno during the fourth quarter of 2012 while it fell statewide as home prices began to rise, according to the California Association of Realtors.

In the Fresno metropolitan area, 70% of the prospective home buyers could afford to buy a median-priced, single-family house during the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to 69% the previous quarter, according to the association’s housing affordability index released Monday.

That means buyers only had to earn a minimum annual income of $28,870 to buy a $152,360 house, the association said.

Fresno’s home affordability, however, fell slightly compared to the fourth quarter of 2011 when 71% of the home buyers could afford to buy a median-priced home.

Other Valley cities, including Madera and Tulare, also saw a drop in home affordability to 74% and 71% in the fourth quarter, respectively, compared to 76% and 73% in the third quarter.

But Kings County saw a increase to 76% from 74%, the report said.

Statewide, the housing affordability is much lower with only 48% of the prospective home buyers able to buy a median-priced house compared to 49% in the third quarter of 2012.

Visit the California Association of Realtors to see the affordability index.

(Chart courtesy of the California Association of Realtors)

Smelt numbers change slightly

After I wrote the Sunday story about the water pumps at the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, federal leaders tweaked their analysis of the delta smelt problem this winter.

The picture is still not good for this protected species, but it’s not quite as bad as it looked in early February. It might help keep the pumps running to provide water for farm and city customers later this year.

The federal analysis released last week says smelt deaths at the pumps  are actually only 64% of the total allowed for the year, not 76% as had been reported.

Two numbers had been adjusted since I first reported on the smelt. The number of fish allowed to die at the pumps was increased from 305 to 362. And the number of fish reported to have died at the pumps is now 230, not 232.

Real Estate: Green Building Council celebrates environmental design

The Central Valley Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council will celebrate Fresno’s environmentally friendly buildings during an event on Feb. 28 at the Tower at River Park.

Keynote speaker Darius Assemi, president of Granville Homes, and other leaders from the green building industry will provide an overview of the benefits of green design in new construction, existing buildings and homes. They will also speak about Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, also known as LEED, which is administered by the green building council.

There are 12 LEED-certified projects in Fresno and two in Clovis. Another 19 projects are in the certification process.

The event will be held 5 to 9 p.m. at 205 E. River Park Circle, a building that is seeking LEED certification.

Tickets are $20 for members and $30 for non-members. The deadline to purchase tickets is Feb. 22. For more information, visit