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Construction heating up at giant Santa Maria greenhouse project

By   /   Friday, April 29th, 2011  /   Comments Off on Construction heating up at giant Santa Maria greenhouse project

Windset Farms is building a gigantic hothouse in Santa Maria.

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The largest construction project in the Tri-Counties is two-thirds complete, bringing Santa Maria that much closer to housing one of the largest greenhouse operations in the United States.

Windset Farms is building a gigantic hothouse — 5.1 million square feet — on Black Road in Santa Maria, where the Canadian company will grow tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables.

The veggies will be grown hydroponically, or in bags without soil, and using drip irrigation. They also won’t be sprayed with herbicides or pesticides, and since the water used will be recycled at an on-site water treatment facility, it may be the greenest greenhouse around.

“This will be the most sustainable greenhouse project in the world,” said President and CEO Steve Newell of Windset, based in British Columbia.
Construction is about two-thirds complete, he said, and the first vegetables will be planted in August.

The Santa Maria Valley proved to be an ideal spot to build and grow the operation. “You need a large, flat parcel of land that’s not in a flood plain, abundant water and natural gas. We require a very Pacific climate that never gets hot and has cool nights,” Newell said.

The economic climate is nice, too. “Santa Maria was quite conducive to that,” he said. “It’s friendly to business and it has a good labor supply.”

The 134-acre project  currently has about 150 employees there, Newell said, and will house about 270 jobs when complete. JW Design, the general contractor, and  MW Architects, the designer, are both San Luis Obispo firms.

Hotel changes hands

• Pacifica Host Hotels of San Diego has purchased the Inn at Morro Bay, formerly part of San Luis Obispo real estate mogul John King’s empire. Pacifica purchased the hotel from Wells Fargo Bank at the end of March after the 98-room waterfront property fell into foreclosure last August, the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce said.  The inn, with almost $14 million in debt, was purchased by Pacifica for about $9 million, the chamber said.

Quick hits

• OPENING: Blackhorse Espresso & Bakery will open a third coffee shop in San Luis Obispo at 796 Foothill Blvd. The local coffee chain also recently opened a commercial bakery on Cross Street.

• RE-OPENING: State and A Bar & Grill at State and Anapamu streets in Santa Barbara was recently acquired by new owners, Pacifica Commerical Realty said. Pacifica and First Principle Business Brokers closed the deal. The property is 5,000 square feet of inside and outdoor patio space. After an extensive remodel, the restaurant will reopen this fall as “Maggie’s at State & A.”

DEALS OF THE WEEK

AmeriPride Uniform Services leased 7,000 square feet of industrial space at 3502 Dry Creek Road in Paso Robles. Bob Fonarow of Lee & Associates Central Coast represented both the tenant and the landlord.

• Industrial Park Associates represented both the landlord and the tenant, The Studio WLV, in the three-year lease of a 5,568-square-foot industrial condo in the Grande Vista Business Center of Newbury Park.
The building will be used for creative media services, recording, set productions, post productions and green screen, IPA said.

• Contact Marlize van Romburgh at [email protected]

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About the author

Managing Editor

Marlize van Romburgh covers banking, finance, agricultural and viticulture. She writes a weekly column on commercial real estate and a monthly column on the restaurant industry. Follow her at @marlizevr

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