Walls going up at Starbucks plant

Walls were raised last week at the new Starbucks bean roasting and processing plant at the Carson Valley Business Park near Johnson Lane.

Construction of the 300,000 square-foot facility is on target and should be completed for a spring 2003 opening, said Chris Gimbl, spokesman for the Seattle-based coffee company.

"We're happy to be here and excited about our new facility in the Carson Valley," Gimbl said.

Florida-based Haskell Construction is building the facility, estimated to cost $41 million, according to figures submitted to the Nevada Commission on Economic Development.

Starbucks stated in its building application with the state it will spend some $66.3 million in capital investments at the Carson Valley Business Park facility through 2004.

About 80 construction workers are at the site, building rebar-enforced walls able to withstand a level-four earthquake, said Haskell project manager Mark Mika.

"This area is a seismic zone three. We've designed it at the four level, similar to the way buildings are constructed in Los Angeles," Mika said. "It's been a challenge, structurally, using more steel and more massive amounts of concrete. Its walls are thicker and steel braces are in place so that in the event of an earthquake, the structure will hold."

Working conditions have been optimal the past few days, allowing for about 40 percent of the frame work and walls to be constructed, said Dave Doscher, project manager for Starbucks.

"It's a chamber of commerce day. You couldn't ask for better weather this time of year," Doscher said.

Huge slabs of concrete, which make up the walls, are set in reinforced rebar and take about seven working days to dry. There are 268 panels, weighing between 90,000 to 100,000 pounds each making up the walls of the facility, Mika said.

The first wall to come up, on the plant's east side, was done in a "tilt-up" fashion, where panels are anchored by a crane, raised and then anchored into place.

It will be about a month before the entire facility is covered and before work will begin on the interior of the facility, Mika said.

Meanwhile, Starbucks will begin taking applications for its plant workers in late July or August, Gimbl said. The company plans to hire about 60 workers or "partners" and add employees to the operation over a five-year build-out period. At that time, the company says it will employ about 200 people.

"We're on target and will begin ramping up for our prospective partners this summer," Gimbl said. "There's already people who have contacted us saying they're interested."

The plant will roast and process green coffee beans at the plant, which will be similar in size and scope to plants in Kent, Wash., and York, Pa.

The third roasting facility was needed because Starbucks is expanding its growing Southern California and Southwestern markets.

In 1999, Starbucks Coffee Co., began a national search for a third coffee bean roasting facility to keep up with its growing worldwide demand of speciality coffees. Search officials looking through Nevada came upon property for sale in in the Johnson Lane area in Douglas County.

In April 2001, Starbucks went before the Douglas County Planning Commission to ask for a height variance to build three coffee bean storage silos. Douglas County's height restriction is 45 feet. Starbucks wanted 80 feet.

In November 2001, Starbucks announced it had closed the deal.


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