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Cohasset Road improvements among imminent city projects

"Chico >> Improvements on Cohasset Road, north of East Avenue, will get started this spring and hopefully be
done by the end of summer, according to city officials Thursday.

An update on Cohasset was among the Chico projects mentioned during the quarterly Community Development update, sponsored by the Chico Chamber, the city and Valley Contractors Exchange.

The number of building permits was up by about 10 percent, compared to last year, although the valuation was lower.

Regarding roads, it looks like Cohasset Road improvements are on track, according to Public Works Director/Engineering Brendan Ottobani. Bids were expected to be opened Thursday, with the $1.3 million project to be awarded and work started over the next couple of months. The stretch between East Avenue and Eaton Road should be finished by late summer.

Using environmentally friendly processes, the road surface will be removed, grated on site and put back down, with a thin overlay of new asphalt, he said.

The city is putting “a moratorium” on utility construction work that would tear up street surfaces.

“Once we’ve rehabilitated the street we won’t allow utilities to trench,” according to Public Works Director/Engineering Brendan Ottoboni.

Residential construction projects include Amber Lynn Estates, 120 single-family homes on 19 acres on Eaton Road, and an 80-unit senior affordable housing project on Humboldt Road property the city owns by Marsh Junior High School. There’s also Chico Veterans Village at East 20th Street and Bruce Road, not far from the VA clinic under construction farther north at Meriam Park.

Second-dwelling units are taking a step forward, with new state regulations that make it easier to build what’s called granny flats. The city also plans an amnesty program, where existing backyard dwellings can be brought up to code, with no fines imposed. Chico Community Development Director Leo DePaola noted that many were built to standards, but never got final approval because the owners wanted to avoid impact fees.

Among the commercial projects are:
• Enloe Medical Center, with the build-out of a passive park and more parking along the west side of the property, in addition to an expansion on an empty parcel on West East Avenue;
• 5th Sun, an expansion to an adjacent parcel of the graphics and apparel business at the Chico Municipal Airport Industrial Park;
• Oxford Suites, the construction of a tower with more than 100 rooms; 

DePaola noted that Diamond Hotel owner Wayne Cook is adding hotel rooms by renovating the adjacent Morehead building above Raw Bar at Broadway and West Fourth Street.

The city is also commissioned a land absorption study by Bay Area Economics that looks at available land to see if it is ready, development trends, and other factors of the development sector. In addition to the study, the city and consultants met with local brokers, developers and real estate professionals to look at current and future market needs.

City officials said that new staff was being hired, but that consultants were still a part of the personnel with an eye to pension issues and the city budget.

A $10 million to $12 million sewer trunk line project in the Comanche Creek area would run along a railroad right of way and serve south Chico’s future development.

Storm drain improvements will also be occurring along East 10th Street.

Downtown, improvements to finish off the East Second Street roundabout will make it look more like “a gateway” to downtown, similar to brick-laden Ringel Park at Main and First streets.

Next week, the City Council will be looking to finalize development impact fees, which will add about $6,000 to the cost of a single-family home.

While that wasn’t the message housing professionals wanted to hear, DePaola noted that the fees have helped the city apply for and land more than $35 million in grants in 2017.

That means the city “... can chase even larger blocks of funds with more development impact fees.”

Ottobani noted the biggest increase in impact fees is associated with street facilities, which are tripling.

Looking over a 10-year average, the city’s current impact fees raised about $18 million, but the increase will bring in $45 million, which is needed for major projects like widening north Esplanade and Bruce Road.

Contact reporter Laura Urseny at 896-7756."

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