The historic Cayucos Veterans Memorial Hall went up in the world on Wednesday — but only by a foot or two.
The 6,580-square-foot building was slowly lifted off its old foundation so it can be shifted onto an adjacent parking area as part of an $11 million renovation project.
“We want to take it slowly,” David Garcia, project manager for JG Contracting in Arroyo Grande, said Wednesday morning. “It’s a historic building, and we know how much it means to the community.”
At 8 am Thursday morning, Garcia confirmed that workers had finished lifting the building.
“They’re putting in the skate beams, and then will put the skates” underneath, he said, defining the skates as rollers that allow the building to move to its temporary home.
Garcia is overseeing the work of his own crew as well as one from Rick Ellison’s Dinuba House Movers from Tulare County.
Garcia estimated the move should be finished and the building secured by sometime Friday.
Various community members wandered by the site Wednesday to check on the renovation project’s progress.
“I’ve probably spent more hours in that hall in the past 30 years than anybody I know,” said Kenneth Kaberline of Cayucos, who stopped by the site with his wife, Darlene. “My job was cooking for the (Cayucos) Lions Club.”
“He’s spent 35 years at the barbecue pit,” his wife said.
Darlene Kaberline said her Cayucos roots are deep. Her grandparents moved there in the 1920s or ’30s, and she and her husband became full-time residents in 1979.
“I’m so glad they’re fixing it up,” she said from the vets hall. “It’s the heart of our community.”
Cayucos Vets Hall in need of major repairs
Originally known as the Cass Warehouse at Cayucos Landing, the Cayucos Veterans Hall was constructed in 1875 by Capt. James Cass, the founder of Cayucos.
It’s located at the base of the Cayucos Pier in Cayucos State Beach.
In recent history, the venue has served as a meeting place for the Cayucos Historical Society, Cayucos Art Gallery and the Cayucos Lions Club — and also hosted weddings and public meetings.
In 2016, the main section of the building was closed due to structural issues, and in 2021, the state fire marshal closed the building entirely.
“The original building was feeling its age after nearly 150 years of oceanfront service and a variety of modifications,” Studio Design Group, which designed the rehabilitation project, wrote in its report. “In addition to structural issues, wave run-up analysis and sea-level rise projections found the building to be out of compliance with California Coastal Commission requirements.”
The new foundation is the key step for the renovation process
Since January, crews have been working between a steady stream of storms to prepare the rickety building for relocation.
Providing a new foundation that’s 2.5 feet higher than the current one to address sea level rise is just one key step in the process of restoring the vets hall to its former glory, San Luis Obispo County Public Works Department Director John Diodati wrote in a description of the renovation project.
Once the hall is on its temporary landing pad, Garcia said, the skates will be removed and “the building will be stabilized to make sure it’s safe.
The structure will remain there until the old foundation is demolished, the site is rough graded and a new foundation is built, complete with concrete piers and steel beams.
Meanwhile, he said, “we’ll continue working on the building itself. We’ll work on the structure while we’re working on the new foundation. We’re not going to waste any time.”
At that point, Dinuba House Movers will give the hall a return ride to its new footing, and the contractor will do exterior and interior finishing.
According to the county, other stages include removing non-historic additions and rehabilitation of the original Cass warehouse and salvaging original historic materials for re-application.
The county also plans to install new steel framing between wood trusses to provide structural stability, build a new addition with art gallery, history museum and kitchen in a style to match the original historic building and renovate the barbecue patio and picnic area adjacent to the hall .
Also planned are new Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant exterior decking and boardwalk with access to the beach and the pier.
“Full rehabilitation of the facility and surrounding site will restore a central piece of Cayucos history and the heartbeat of the community where residents and visitors have gathered for generations,” wrote Diodati.
The project is estimated to be completed in spring 2024, weather permitting.
Where does funding for rehabilitation come from?
Funding and support for the renovation project came from state, county and local officials, as well as community members.
According to the county’s website, the funding partners included the California Natural Resources Agency, which contributed a $4.4 million grant. California State Parks contributed $705,250 and the California Coastal Conservancy kicked in $345,000.
In addition, the county contributed an internal loan of $3.5 million and prepaid some expenses, such as design and engineering.
The Restore Cayucos Vets Hall Committee has already contributed about $70,000 to renovation efforts, according to committee chairman Greg Bettencourt, and may add more to the fund if the county has started making payments on the loan before hall rentals are sufficient to cover them.
The committee is continuing to raise funds to outfit the building’s interior, stage and more. Donate at restorecayucosvetshall.org.
For more information about the vets hall renovation project, go to slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Public-Works/Current-Public-Works-Projects/Cayucos-Vets-Hall-Restoration.aspx.