More than 40 Fresno firefighters recently chopped holes in the roof and rappelled down the sides of the old Fellowship Hall at The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens. But this was no emergency.
ABHOW had given firefighters from four truck companies and eight engine companies two days to practice their skills on the retirement community’s 80-foot structure before it was razed to make way for a new campus center.
Firefighters erected 105-foot ladders over the building and punched holes in the roof to work on ventilation techniques. Finally, to help the demolition crew, they attached to the roof beams heavy cables that were later used to safely pull down the 45-year-old structure.
“The training we did there is invaluable,” says Lawrence French, a Fresno Fire Department captain with Engine 11, located across the street from the community. “Nearly 100 percent of our potential first-alarm responders participated.”
The firefighters also offered “quite a bit of entertainment” for the residents, according to Harvey Zimmerman, resident council president.
Fellowship Hall’s demolition was part of the second phase of a $121-million major renovation. Construction will begin soon on its replacement, to be called The Valencia, scheduled to be completed by May 2013.
“The Valencia will be the hub of the campus,” says Tom Walls, director of facilities at The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens. It will feature a 192-seat auditorium, 72 seats more than its predecessor. In addition, it will house a business office, gift shop, computer lab, library and brain-fitness room.
The Valencia floor plan also includes a commercial kitchen that will serve three new restaurants: The Grill, which will include a separate space for private parties; a more formal fine-dining restaurant, and a casually elegant coffee and snacks cafe.
But the campus’ old kitchen won’t be discarded. It will serve a soon-to-open community for women and children in what was once the Vagabond Hotel, to be operated by Rescue The Children, a ministry of the Fresno Rescue Mission.
Also coming to The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens over the next 18 months are three more key additions: The Grove, ABHOW’s acclaimed memory support program; The Villages, a new health center that will be just the second of its kind in California to offer smaller, homelike cottages to residents; and a cluster of 86 residential living apartments.
Residents are excited about the new campus growing around them. “Having everything in one location [at The Valencia] will be good for residents,” says Zimmerman. “It will benefit us all in the future.”
Founded in 1949, ABHOW is widely known for its pioneering leadership in senior housing and health care. The company serves more than 5,000 residents in 42 retirement communities in California, Arizona, Nevada and Washington.
To learn more about ABHOW visit www.abhow.com.
This article appears in the July 2012 issue of ABHOW Words.