Slater, the 11-time world champion considered the best of all time, spent 10 years working with a USC aerospace engineer to design a perfect wave, peeling 700 yards along a recontoured water ski lake. Videos of the wave, with hollow barrel sections and open faces to do aerials and cutbacks, have captivated the surfing world since the first one appeared in December 2015. But only a select few have been invited to see it, much less ride it.
“A wave of that shape sits in the subconsciousness of every surfer in the world,” longtime Surfer magazine editor Steve Hawk told The Times in 2016. “That wave is exactly the fantasy wave I drew on the margins of my notebooks when I was in high school.”
For the first time, the facility, the Surf Ranch, will be open to the public during the contest, according to a World Surf League news release. The two-day competition on May 5-6, the Founders’ Cup of Surfing, will have “a festival backdrop honoring the culture of surfing — food, music, beverage, art and special guests will all be on site for enjoyment.”
In an unusual format, the wave-riders will not compete individually but in five-person teams (three men, two women) representing different parts of the world: Australia, the U.S., Europe and Brazil, and one team representing the best athletes from other surfing parts of the world, such as South Africa and Japan.
Global teams of engineers and surfers are vying to build artificial wave pools that can produce high-quality waves that come in rapid enough succession to create an economically viable surf amusement park. An obstacle has been energy use and the length of time the water needs to settle after a wave rolls through before the next one can come.
At a contest, this is less of an issue because of the small number of surfers in the water. And the bonus for contest organizers: the mood swings of nature are mostly out of the equation; no need to wait for distant storms to produce ocean swells. Barring mechanical failure, perfect waves will be coming on May 5.
Will triple the size of the student union building
Student fees to increase
Students at California State University, Bakersfield have approved a referendum to more than triple the size of the Student Union and build an aquatics facility, according to Associated Students Inc. A total of 1,768 students voted on the referendum, with 1,086 (61.4 percent) voting “yes” and 682 students (38.6) voting “no.”
“The fruition of the project will encourage student development, improve student life, provide exceptional services and advance the CSUB community,” says ASI President Mariela Gomez.
The total expansion will be approximately 80,000 square feet – about 40,000 for the two-story Student Union expansion and 40,000 for the new Student Recreation Center Aquatics Facility. The current 17,000-square-foot student union was originally built in 1987 when the campus population was about 5,100. Since then, CSUB has grown to more 10,000 students.
The $37 million project — $27 million for the Student Union and $10 million for the aquatics center – will be funded through a combination of sources, including student fees. Student fees for the Student Union expansion will increase by roughly $40 per semester in the first year and tier up to $160 per semester over a four-year period for the Student Union expansion.
Fees for the SRC Aquatic Facility are roughly $20 per semester and will not tier. ASI leaders will meet soon with campus administrators to determine when the fee collection will begin. Students who currently receive financial aid will have all fees covered without any out-of-pocket expenses. CSUB anticipates that the Student Union expansion will need three years of fee collection before the construction process can begin.
Planning for the construction of the SRC Aquatic Facility, which will be located in the current dirt lot on Kroll Way across the street from parking lot K2 and next to the SRC soccer field, will begin immediately, and the timeline for completion will be determined after construction begins. Approximately 80-100 jobs will be created by the projects.
Dirt is moving, concrete is pouring, and buildings are going up on some long-vacant lots across Fresno. Soon, you’ll see gas stations, restaurants, apartment complexes, and a funeral home pop up.
“Economic activity is robust and it’s across the entire city, all being driven by market forces,” said Mayor Lee Brand.
Here’s a look at what’s coming based on city applications and planning documents. Developers are not asked for completion or opening dates, so be patient. Construction projects are notorious for delays.
▪ The last empty corner at Stanislaus Street and Van Ness Avenue in downtown Fresno will be the site of work lofts and apartments. It was used recently as a parking lot, but many will remember that it was a boarded-up gas station for years.
Upside Enterprises, led by Mark Astone of Catalyst Marketing, removed the underground gas tanks this week. The project is still in the design phase.
▪ In northwest Fresno, the empty lots around Sierra Sky Park will soon start to fill up. The city council on Thursday approved a project at Herndon and Blythe to allow the construction of three commercial pads for future buildings, including a drive-thru restaurant.
▪ Down the street, United Health Centers is building a 57,000-square-foot administrative building on the northwest corner of Herndon and Brawley avenues. About 150 people will work out of the office, including senior executives and employees from other administrative departments, patient referral services and the call center. There is room for expansion.
The Neenan Company based in Colorado is the design and build partner for the project. The building is expected to be finished late this year. The health center’s existing administration building in Parlier will be renovated into a new health center.
▪ Across the street, on the southwest corner of Herndon and Brawley, the dirt on an old fig orchard is being graded for a Chevron gas station with 12 pumps and a convenience store. An attached car wash is also planned.
Timbers support walls under construction at an office complex as construction worker Napoleon Gonzalez passes through at Herndon and Palm avenues, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018.
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▪ In a new building at Palm and Herndon avenues, tenant improvements have started on the new Steinway Piano Gallery of Fresno, formerly Valley Music Center. Dutch Bros. plans to open its sixth Fresno location on one end of the building. Butterfish poke restaurant is also working on opening its second Fresno spot (it has a restaurant in Clovis too) on the other end. A 2,100-square-foot space is available for lease.
A second building on the busy corner, along Herndon Avenue, is under construction. It will be offices for Guarantee Real Estate.
▪ The city’s first Hyatt Place hotel is under construction east of Highway 41, just south of Alluvial Avenue. The 130,000-square foot facility will have 124 rooms, a pool, Jacuzzi, gym and restaurant. The hotel is expected to open in 2019.
Concrete worker Victor Mandujano breaks through hard ground as he prepares to set a form at the Starbucks and Kabab City building on Nees Avenue, east of First Street, Friday Feb. 9, 2018.
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▪ In northeast Fresno, a 9,175-square-foot funeral home is planned for 2.5 acres behind the ARCO gas station near First and Nees avenues. The city has received inquiries, but no formal application, about possible apartment projects on the rest of the land.
Construction continues on Starbucks’ new home on Nees between Walgreens and Sakura Chaya. Kabab City, a Middle Eastern restaurant, has signed a lease for the building.
▪ Granville Homes has started work on a 162-unit apartment project called “Brookside” on the northeast corner of Millbrook and Nees avenues. The development will have a clubhouse and leasing office, private garages and a pool.
▪ Spencer Enterprises is building a 320-unit apartment complex near the northwest corner of Willow and Herndon avenues with community building, pool, garages and carports. A commercial development is planned for the rest of the property, but the city has not received any applications yet.
▪ Trucks are moving in and out of 20 acres of land on the northwest corner of Shepherd and Willow avenues where a mixed-use commercial and multifamily development is under construction from Vincent Ricchiuti of Heritage Development Company. The plans call for more than 250 units and 34,800 square feet of commercial space with activity areas, a paseo for outdoor dining and a corner patio area.
A recent report has shown home prices throughout the Central Valley to be up over the same time last year, but those prices might be coming down.
In its December 2017 data report, CoreLogic, an analytics and data provider, stated that home prices nationally were up 6.6 percent in December over the same time in 2016.
Locally, home prices in Stockton-Lodi and Modesto were also up. In Stockton-Lodi, prices increased by 7.8 percent year-over-year. In Modesto, prices were up 9.1 percent year-over-year. Those prices include distressed sales.
From November 2017 to December 2017, prices increased by 0.5 percent in Stockton-Lodi and decreased 0.4 percent in Modesto.
“Home prices continue to rise as a result of aggressive monetary policy, the economic and jobs recovery and a lack of housing stock. The largest price gains during 2017 were in five Western states: California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Washington,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic in a press release. “As home prices and the cost of originating loans rise, affordability continues to erode, making it more challenging for both first-time buyers and moderate-income families to buy. At this point, we estimate that more than one-third of the 100 largest metropolitan areas are overvalued.”
Thirty-five percent of the metropolitan areas with the overvalued housing markets have prices that are 10 percent above a long-run sustainable level, CoreLogic reports.
“The number of homes for sale has remained very low,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Job growth lowered the unemployment rate to 4.1 percent by year’s end, the lowest level in 17 years. Rising income and consumer confidence has increased the number of prospective homebuyers. The net result of rising demand and limited for-sale inventory is a continued appreciation in home prices.”
A pair of Fulton Street buildings dating to the 1940s and ’50s are falling under the steel teeth of an excavator to make way for a four-story building that will eventually provide more than 50 apartments as well as ground-floor commercial space.
A demolition crew began work Thursday taking down the side-by-side buildings at 835 and 829 Fulton St., north of Inyo Street. The site, along with an adjoining parking lot, is being cleared for the first phase of the South Stadium redevelopment project in the downtown neighborhood near Chukchansi Park. Developers Mehmet Noyan and Terance Frazier hope to begin construction on the mixed-use building by late summer or early fall and be ready for occupancy by November 2019.
The $18 million construction project will include 27 one-bedroom apartments and 27 two-bedroom units. More than half of the apartments will have a view across an alley into the baseball stadium. Most of the apartments will be rented out at market rates, with rents expected to range from $1,000 to $1,800 per month, Frazier said Thursday, but about a dozen of the units will be rented as affordable housing.
Noyan and Frazier are working on plans for future phases that include other nearby properties, “but our focus now is on Phase 1,” Noyan said. “We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.”
Plans for the project have been in the works since about 2013, Noyan said, but it was the opening of Fulton Street – after more than 50 years as a pedestrian-only outdoor mall – that was critical to the effort. “Without it I probably wouldn’t be standing here today,” Noyan said. “It was so important, not only to us as developers, but lenders would look at it the same way. I doubt we would make this kind of investment had the street not been completed.”
Lifelong Fresno resident Ron Bohigian was among bystanders who watched as the excavator began to delicately pluck at the brick wall. His mother and grandmother bought the building at 835 Fulton in the early 1960s and ran Gay Twenty Fashions, a women’s dress store that operated until 2000.
“As I kid I would come in and help out. I would vacuum and fold boxes, and my kids even did that, too,” Bohigian said. “When (my kids) heard this was going to be torn down, they said, ‘Dad, go down there and get a few bricks for us.’”
“I remember Fulton before it was a mall and I remember when they opened the mall (in 1964),” he added. “I really feel kind of good about what’s going on. This area’s only going to get better.…It all looks good and it’s attractive.”
Southern Power is buying Gaskell West 1 Solar Facility
“Gaskell West 1 is an excellent fit for Southern Power’s evolving business”
Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power is buying the 20-megawatt Gaskell West 1 Solar Facility in Kern County, the Atlanta, Georgia-based firm says.
“We are pleased to start the quarter with continued growth in our renewable portfolio,” says Southern Power President and CEO Buzz Miller. “Gaskell West 1 is an excellent fit for Southern Power’s evolving business as we strive to meet market demands through our commitment to develop clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy resources for the benefit of our customers.”
Construction of the approximately 280-acre project began in October 2017, and the facility is expected to begin commercial operation in March. Southern California Edison will purchase the electricity and associated renewable energy credits generated by the facility under a 20-year power purchase agreement and will have the option to keep or sell the associated credits. Southern Power purchased the facility from Recurrent Energy, which is developing the project. The purchase price was not announced.
D.H. Blattner & Sons Inc. is performing the engineering, procurement and construction services, and First Solar Energy Services will operate and maintain the facility upon completion. Southern Power plans to use third-party tax equity as part of the funding of the transaction.
The announcement marks Southern Power’s fifth solar facility within Kern County and 12th solar facility within California. With the addition of Gaskell West 1, Southern Power owns more than 3,500 MW of renewable generation from 38 solar, wind and biomass facilities either announced, acquired or under construction from California to Maine. In total, the Southern Company system has added or announced more than 6,500 MW of renewable generation since 2012.