Friday, November 16 , 2018, 11:35 am | Fair 68º


Christmas Tree Marks Construction Milestone at Enos Ranch Site

CoastHills Credit Union project features topping-off tradition with a holiday twist

A Christmas tree and American flag hang from the CoastHills Credit Union building under construction in Santa Maria, as part of a topping-off tradition to show a project has reached its highest point. Click to view larger
A Christmas tree and American flag hang from the CoastHills Credit Union building under construction in Santa Maria, as part of a topping-off tradition to show a project has reached its highest point.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A Christmas tree shining in the night sky at the future CoastHills Credit Union headquarters carries out a tradition with roots in superstition at construction sites.

The artificial tree, more than 7 feet tall, stands on the southeast corner of the building under construction on a 4-acre site at the corner of East Betteravia Road and Highway 101.

The building is part of the big Enos Ranch development

Workers installed the artificial pine tree covered with multi-colored lights recently, signaling that a construction project has reached its highest point. 

“It’s a topping-off ceremony. It goes back hundreds of hundreds of years,” said Dave Salm, assistant vice president of project management.

In the past, ceremonies celebrated placement of a cornerstone or foundation while the topping-off, or topping-out, event typically marked the milestone for a building reaching its final height — approximately 55 feet in this case.

Approximately two weeks ago the CoastHills steel crew noted the milestone by installing a palm tree in keeping with the project’s California locale.

“Since Christmas was upon us we went ahead and put the tree in a prominent location on the 101-Betteravia corridor,” Salm said. 

The lighted tree is expected to remain in place until after Christmas.

A giant United States flag also hangs from a top beam on the building, an American twist on the topping-out ceremony.

“The construction site at our new headquarters has thankfully been a safe one,” CoastHills President/CEO Jeff York said. “We put the tree up to celebrate that safety, express hope that it stays that way and also to wish ‘Happy Holidays’ to everyone who passes by.”

The three-story, 92,000-square-foot building will be more than twice the size of the Credit Union’s current headquarters in Vandenberg Village. 

The steel crew, approximately 100 workers, has completed its chores. As other trades move in do their work, the number of employees is expected to average 50 and grow to exceed 100 people 

The new home for CoastHills is set to open in early 2019, when back office employees from three different locations will relocate the building. A state-of-the-art banking branch will open on the ground floor.

Construction remains on schedule although winter rains could cause delays, Salm said.

However, crews have worked hard to reach a point where heavy rains wouldn’t affect the site as significantly, he added.

Crews have installed underground utilities, completed the foundation, created the metal frame with the first-floor concrete slab poured. The second-floor slab could be added as soon as early Wednesday morning. 

“On major projects like this, we always make sure to celebrate the topping out,” said Jeff Martin, senior vice president of Specialty Construction, the local general contractor spearheading the project. 

“It’s our way of wishing good luck to the future occupants with the hope that the building has a long and prosperous life,” Martin said. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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