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YVCC moves forward with plans to renovate Grandview Safeway store

GRANDVIEW - Monday morning the final step needed to meet the requirements to secure funds for the eagerly anticipated renovation of the former Grandview Safeway building were met.

Yakima Valley Community College officials hosted a short public hearing with only a couple of people in attendance on the Grandview campus to take citizens' testimony. YVCC officials plan to turn the former grocery store into an educational center designed to answer to growing wine, tourism and health labor needs of the Yakima Valley.

Possibly because college officials has already done such a good job of meeting and explaining the process to community leaders, turnout was so light at the hearing, YVCC President Linda Kaminski said.

Nonetheless, the college, which was required to locally raise $1 million to fund the renovation and expansion project, had to hold the final public hearing in order to comply with grant funding requirements, she explained.

The college will have all the funds for the $2 million project as of July 1, she added.

The former Safeway store is slated to be transformed into a Tuscany-style building, housing both a grape and wine center and an allied health center.

Phase one of the plan, which includes the wine and grape center, is expected to be completed by the spring of 2007. The competition of the second phase will quickly follow, she added.

"We hope to begin offering instruction as soon as the classrooms are completed," she said.

The old Safeway store has been on the college's action plan for the past several years, Kaminski explained.

"We are excited to begin moving ahead with the project," she added.

The new wine grape center and allied health center project has received strong support from community and business leaders.

"We've received the support of the Washington Wine Commission and local hospitals, who realize this center will train people for necessary skilled jobs in our community," she said.

The wine center will include an incubator space for a fledgling winery, where college students will be able to obtain hands-on experience in the wine and grape industry. The center will also feature a tasting room.

The allied health center will offer classes and labs for five major medical areas, including surgical technician, medical billing and coding, pharmaceutical technologist, medical assistant and medical interpreting.

"We plan to start offering those classes on the Grandview campus as soon as the classrooms are ready," she added.

Kaminski said funds for the building renovation become available July 1, at which time college officials will hire an engineer to take the college's conceptual drawings of the center and transform them into the necessary blueprints for the construction phase.

"We expect the design phase to take at least four months, at which time we will begin to seek bids.

"With luck, the bids will be let in January 2006, with the construction phase expected to take up to a year," she explained.

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