Repurposing and craft-beer nuptials

Developer proposes turning old gym into apartments; Sierra Nevada chooses Oktoberfest wedding couple

As we all know, especially here in Butte County following the Camp Fire, housing is a major issue. I was encouraged last week to see the Board of Supervisors take a major step to address it—and homelessness—via a new program and four county staff positions. Local municipalities also are taking up the issue, at workshops and in public meetings. Let’s see where this goes!

In the meantime, I’ve noticed quite a bit of infill happening. Two moderate-size properties near where I live in southwest Chico were recently razed and are in the process of being replaced by what appear to be duplexes. I’m sure it’ll affect traffic in my neck of the woods, but people need places to live, so I’ll deal with it.

There’s an innovative project going through the planning approval process and being proposed for the old Chico Racquet Club building on Rio Lindo Avenue, which has sat vacant for many years. Instead of tearing it down or putting a new club in its place, Airehart Construction has proposed to turn it into apartments—19 of them. The pool will remain, as well as the indoor bike parking. And there are already enough spots in the parking lot. It’s cool to see people thinking outside the box and addressing two issues at once: blight and a need for housing. Keep it up.

Craft-beer wedding I mentioned a few weeks ago the contest being held by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to choose an engaged couple to get married at this year’s Oktoberfest. Well, the winners have been chosen. Andrew and Katie, who live in San Francisco but hail from Chico, were deemed most worthy of the extravagant occasion: They’ll get transportation, a honeymoon suite, cake, flowers, food and photos, plus tickets to Oktoberfest for 50 guests. Not bad!

One of the main criteria for the contest was demonstrating—via personal video—a deep love of craft beer. Their story was pretty compelling: “I knew it was her when she ordered a Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest on our first date,” said Andrew. “And I had a Pale Ale in my hand when I asked her to marry me.” The wedding will take place on opening night—Sept. 27—in front of approximately 3,500 people.

Shout out To the mystery woman who saw me having a bad morning while trying to cheer up with good food at Old Barn Kitchen, thank you for breakfast. Your quiet generosity—and the Icelandic Benedict—brightened my otherwise murky day.

New face I had a feeling when Gridley welcomed its huge community of fire survivors that business would start to ramp up. The first new face I’ve seen is a reinvention of the Gridley Grill. The former was down-home delicious, but the Gridley Grill & Crab Shack will certainly add something new to that stretch of Highway 99. Grand opening set for Sept. 28. (For more on Gridley’s Camp Fire Community, see “Home, sweet temporary home,” page 18.)