Tom Richards graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, after completing active duty 1 military service. During and after college, he was employed as a staff accountant and senior auditor by a major Santa Barbara CPA firm. He left to work for a locally based real estate firm. During that tenure, he formed joint venture and limited partnership investments in multi-residential and condominium developments.
Tom moved to Fresno, initially developing with others and building single-family subdivisions, office buildings and shopping centers. He subsequently formed The Penstar Group. Its real estate activities continue today and have included the development and construction of single-family subdivisions, condominiums, multi-family rental housing, senior rental housing, general and medical office buildings, skilled nursing facilities, industrial warehouse and manufacturing buildings and shopping centers. Penstar’s geographic operations have extended from the Inland Empire east of Los Angeles through Sacramento and in the Seattle, Washington area.
In recent years, Penstar’s development focus has been divided between downtown Fresno’s revitalization and redevelopment efforts, apartments, and a major master planned community in southeast Fresno. In his capacity as managing partner of M.L. Street Properties, Richards with Penstar directed the development, construction and now management of Fresno’s first new privately owned high-rise Class A office building in over 30 years, the TOWER at Convention Center Court. Other completed downtown projects include administrative and medical office buildings for Fresno’s Regional Community Medical Center and Terry’s House. Current developments include the TOWER 2 at Convention Center Court, the renovation of the historic Bank of Italy building, development of senior’s housing with Ed Kashian at Campus Pointe on the CSU Fresno Campus, and three apartment projects in Fresno. In southeast Fresno, with Ed Kashian, Richards is co-managing member of Fancher Creek, a 485-acre master planned community including a Regional Shopping Center, Village Center, 74 acre Business Park, 800 single-family homes, and recreational and civic amenities.
Tom is a licensed general contractor and real estate broker. He has been active in civic services, among which have been the Chancellor’s Advisory Council at UCSB, the Business Advisory Council for Fresno’s Public Television and the Building Industry Association. He is a past Director of the 21st District Agricultural Association, The Big Fresno Fair and a past Chair of Fresno Unified School District’s Measure K Oversight Committee. He also chaired the City and County of Fresno’s 10 Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. He serves as Chair of the Board for Premier Valley Bank, Director of the Fresno County Workforce Development Board, Vice Chair of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo Board, Chair of Fresno First Steps Home, Chair of Fresno’s Property-based Business Improvement District and Vice Chair of the CA High-Speed Rail Authority.