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Coast Hills

Celebrating a new milestone and wishing happy holidays to all

by Joshua D. Scroggin
December 19, 2017
A Christmas tree sits atop the construction site of the CoastHills Credit Union headquarters project.
The Christmas tree atop the construction site of the CoastHills corporate headquarters serves to both with a happy holidays to all and celebrate the topping out, when a construction project has reached its tallest point.

Drive by the future site of CoastHills Credit Union’s headquarters at Highway 101 and Betteravia in Santa Maria, look up, and you’ll notice a pine tree at the steel structure’s highest point.

The plant, artificial for safety precautions, is part of a construction tradition that dates back to ancient times. And unlike other construction rites — like a groundbreaking or ribbon-cutting — the novel part about this new edition to the project is that it comes in the middle of the work.

The topping-out ceremony signals that a construction project has literally reached its highest point. We added some festive lights to get into the holiday season.

“The construction site at our new headquarters has thankfully been a safe one,” CoastHills President/CEO Jeff York said. “We put the tree up to celebrate that safety, express hope that it stays that way and also to wish ‘Happy Holidays’ to everyone who passes by.”

The three-story, 92,000 square-foot building that more than doubles the Credit Union’s current headquarters in Vandenberg Village still has a quite a way to go before completion. It’s scheduled to open in early 2019, when back office employees from three different locations will move in and a state-of-the-art banking branch will open on the ground floor.

To date, the foundation has been laid, the steel superstructure has been erected and textured sheet metal has been installed to separate the different floors. Nearly $4.7 million has been committed to local union labor contracts for work including concrete, steel and underground utilities.

Next up, passersby will begin to notice three-story steel studs going up in the coming months as the work progresses.

The topping-out ceremony originated in the 8th century and spread from Scandinavia to the rest of Northern Europe. It eventually migrated to the colonies, and lives on here in the United States as a both a celebration and a superstition. Tradition dating back to the mid-20th century has seen the tree accompanied by an American flag.

“On major projects like this, we always make sure to celebrate the topping out,” said Jeff Martin, Senior Vice President of Specialty Construction, the local General Contractor spearheading the project. “It’s our way of wishing good luck to the future occupants with the hope that the building has a long and prosperous life.”

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