Granite Park Grows From Financial Troubles

April 25, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Granite Park has faced its share of financial woes.Saturday local baseball and basketball fans said momentum was building in the park and that could be a boost to the local economy.

The annual "Hoop There It Is" basketball tournament was an eye opener for several Fresno residents who have not visited Granite Park for some time.

"Driving over here I was amazed at all the stuff that's come up so it's really nice," said Fresno's Megan Cesario.

This Central Fresno area has undergone a major facelift as of late. Baseball fields with themed parks reopened several weeks ago. Saturday they were filled with area teams competing in a tournament as well.

Fresno's Louie Gonzales: "City area. It's a good location, it's a nice atmosphere, [and] it's a good place to be bring your families out here."

"It's coming back. It's just part of the cycle of business," said Granite park manager and co-owner Milt Barbis. Barbis has faced serious financial trouble with this park. Plans to set up a roller coaster ride in a nearby field never came to fruition. Famous rocker Sammy Haggar's restaurant Cabo Wabo closed after several months. The Public House recently shutdown for renovations but is once again open. Barbis said he and investors have reworked their business plan.

"To move slowly and steady. Our goal was to get everything open quickly. Now we're shoring everything up and have a game plan for every venue as it opens," said Barbis.

But former Fresno councilmember Brian Calhoun is not convinced backing Granite Park's developers with $5-million of the city's money was such a good idea.

"Money's being lost. The bank is saying we're out 5-million dollars. And they're saying pay up," exclaimed Calhoun.

The city attorney was unavailable for comment regarding litigation into Granite Park. Action News has learned the city is exploring possible legal action. Barbis expects revenue to pick up.

He said residents can expect several new tenants to move in, including an indoor rock climbing gym.

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