Throw a rock in any direction in Winters, and you’ll probably hit an orange construction cone. From one end of Grant Avenue to the other, it seems that construction has been non-stop all summer, and will likely continue into the fall and next year too.
Of all the construction taking place, surely the new PG&E Gas Safety Academy is the most impressive. The construction is complete and a grand opening was scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 27. The state-of-the-art facility will focus on gas pipeline safety and is expected to draw new classes of students each week from all over the state and nation.
To accommodate the largest construction project in Winters history, a new stoplight was added at Grant Avenue, complete with a new street: PG&E Way. The total cost of the facility was $85 million. City Manager John Donlevy is pleased with the results and the process.
“The entire team from the Gas Operations Technical Training Facility have been a joy to work with and we are very glad to have this project completed,” said Donlevy.
Just across the way, next to the Chevron station, a new Starbucks is materializing, and completion is expected this fall.
“This project is beginning to take shape and we are excited by the overall project,” says Donlevy. “This will be a huge draw for persons coming off (Interstate) 505 and another attraction for people to get to know where Winters is located.”
The Starbucks project is linked to the reconstruction of the Chevron station right next to it. While the new Chevron building is constructed, the fuel islands will remain intact. The new Chevron will be bigger, will carry a larger inventory, and will also feature a drive-through car wash. The developer for the new Chevron is Mike Ali.
Right behind the Chevron, a 72-room Fairfield Inn & Suites will be constructed. It will be under the same ownership and management as the Fairfield Inn in Woodland. Donlevy reports that city staff met with the financing group for this project recently, and all went well. Construction is expected to begin around the first of the year, and will take about a year to complete. The developer is Rohit Ranchhod Hospitality Management, Inc.
Continuing down Grant Avenue, construction of a roundabout at Walnut Lane is well underway, with traffic being diverted through orange cones while the work is being completed. Donlevy says the project is about 20 percent complete, and installation of utilities is underway.
“So far, so good, with only minor issues arising with some of the utility work,” says Donlevy.
Construction is currently taking place on the south side of Grant Avenue, and then will shift to the north side. Following that, Donlevy says construction will then focus on the middle of the road and the actual construction of the roundabout.
“The difficult part will be the daytime detour of traffic off Grant Avenue, which will be a traffic mess,” admits Donlevy. “The entire engineering team is working well to try to expedite the project to reduce frustration during the detour period.”
Moving along down Grant Avenue, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on Sept. 7 for the new Career Tech Center, which required the removal of some large trees. This is the first phase of a $17 million development project at Winters High School, and was funded by Measure R funds. This 9,000 square foot center will provide students with current technology education and is expected to be completed next fall.
Farther down Grant Avenue, long lines of traffic were seen throughout the day over the last week or so as construction continued on the traffic stoplight at Main Street, near the Public Safety Facility. The project suffered a minor delay but is back on track and now about two weeks ahead of schedule. The electrical work is finished, as is the asphalt and paving work that began last week. Striping on the asphalt will come next, and then the light will be activated. Donlevy expects this to occur in the first or second week of October.
Arguably the most celebrated project was the demolition of the old wooden play structure at City Park, with a build week planned during the second week of October. The ground is now bare, and site work expected to begin soon, with volunteers helping to do everything from construction to helping serve food.
“This is an amazing project and the entire Project Playground team has been really great to work with,” says Donlevy. “They need volunteers for the build and we are looking forward to helping them make the construction of the new structure a reality.”
Just next to the play structure site, a futsal court is also under construction. This city project will include a paved surface with lighting, and was funded by a $100,000 grant from PG&E following the demolition of a skate park facility on Valley Oak Drive two years ago.
“This is an important project for the teens of our community,” says Donlevy. “They currently use the tennis courts, which is not optimal for either them or tennis players.”
He notes that this project is on hold because the site will be used for construction of the new play structure. Donlevy expects the futsal project to be completed in November.
Last but certainly not least is the much-anticipated Hotel Winters, located on the entire block of Abbey Street between Railroad Avenue and First Street. The 73-room hotel will feature commercial space on the bottom floor, and a new restaurant and bar owned by John Pickerel, owner of the Buckhorn and Putah Creek Cafe, is anticipated. Mike Olivas of AKM Railroad LLC, the developer, reported that the project needs a few more tweaks, and a construction timeline is expected soon.
Currently, the underground piping and electrical conduits are in place, and a slab has been poured. Olivas says the completion date for this project is still unknown.
“The pouring of the slab is an important milestone and we are looking forward to the hotel construction to begin,” says Donlevy, noting that city staff are looking forward to working with the project’s marketing team, as advertisement of the project “should be a significant boost to the entire downtown economy.”
These are the projects that are readily visible in town, however, there are two more expected just east of the Yolo Federal Credit Union: a new home for Winters Healthcare, expected to break ground in the spring, and a new senior living facility, Blue Mountain Senior Apartments, expected to break ground in December.