State Insurance Fund Site Moves Forward With New Schedule For Completion
By Shelly Meron/Business Writer
With the foundation and walls in place, structural steel work is performed on building number one of the State Compensation Insurance Fund campus currently under construction near the interchange of Interstate 80 and I-505 in Vacaville. (Ryan Chalk/The Reporter)
Construction is moving along on the multi-million dollar State Compensation Insurance Fund building project in Vacaville, even though completion of phase I has been pushed back by several months.
After competing with several other cities in the state to bring the project to town, city officials said they hope the project will be the first of many large office developments to choose Vacaville.
"This legitimizes the fact that Vacaville is the kind of place these offices can go, because they hadn't been coming here before," said Mike Palombo, economic development manager for the city of Vacaville. "I think we'll see more offices in that area."
The new buildings - three 86,000 square foot buildings in phase I, and two more of the same size in phase II - are being built near the Interstate 80 and I-505 interchange. When complete, the five buildings will employ between 900 and 1,500 employees with an average annual salary of $46,000, according to Denise Burian, real estate manager for State Compensation Insurance Fund.
State Compensation Insurance Fund is a public, non-profit enterprise providing workers compensation insurance to employers in California. Employees at the new facility will be coming from existing offices in Fairfield and San Francisco, and will be working on claims and policy processing, information technology, as well as a customer service call center that is scheduled to be built in phase II.
So, what did it take to bring such a massive project to Vacaville? Burian said the city provided State Fund with incentives that were very appealing.
"When we searched for property, we met with many cities and some counties," Burian said. "Vacaville was one of the cities that offered us incentives to relocate our operations there, and that was very important for the decision-making process at State Fund."
The incentives package boils down to a roughly $2.3 million credit against the development fees the city normally assesses a developer. That credit amount is based on an estimated assessed value of the project.
In return, State Fund agreed to create one job for every 350 square feet of building - or a minimum of about 1,228 jobs for 430,000 square feet - at an average salary of $45,000, excluding benefits. Depending on whether those goals are met exactly, exceeded, or not met in full, the city and developer reconcile the amount of the credit five years after the permits for the project are first pulled.
Burian said the first phase of the project, which was originally scheduled to be completed at the end of this year or the beginning of 2008, is now estimated to be completed next summer. She said the original schedule "was a very aggressive schedule, and we knew that it was going to be very tight." She added that the new schedule was more reasonable and "one which we can meet."
Burian said State Compensation Insurance Fund will look at its staffing needs once phase I of construction is finished, and determine if and when the second phase of construction will begin.
"We anticipate, if necessary, completing construction (of phase II) in late 2010," she said, adding that the possibility of not constructing phase II was "a remote possibility."
Burian would not discuss construction costs for the project, but Palombo said the estimated assessed value of all the completed buildings is around $225 per square foot - or $96.75 million at 430,000 square feet.
With such a large project, energy efficiency is a major priority. Burian said State Fund will apply for certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, and also hopes to beat California's energy efficiency standards by 10 percent. That's why the project includes many environmentally-friendly components, like solar "trees" - solar panels that double as covered parking - which will produce 330 kilowatt hours of electricity; under-floor air distribution; energy-efficient lighting systems that include automatic dimming of lighting near windows; solar roofing, which reduces heat penetration; water-saving landscaping; energy-efficient glazing on windows; and recycling building materials.
Palombo said this was an exciting project for Vacaville, both because of its green building features and because of the economic development doors it may open.
"This is new jobs, new people, new everything," he said.
Shelly Meron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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