Swing by the Mill District site these days and all may seem quiet at one end, at the other end we continue to build The Exchange. In the coming weeks, at the north end, large-scale construction will begin, and our new neighborhood will begin to take shape quickly.
On the immediate horizon: Digging holes and laying foundations to make way for new construction. Jim Hall, our director of design and construction, said it’s about to be “game on” for everyone. “In a way right now it’s like the calm before the storm of construction,” he said. “Once they get started Mill District is going to rise pretty quickly.”
Specifically, construction crews will dig down into the dirt before they go up. As they dig, they will place into the holes soil stabilization measures that will keep our buildings safe in the event of earthquakes. The most obvious of these measures are rammed aggregate piers (RAPs) that will serve as extra supports. Eventually, hundreds of these RAPs will stand beneath Mill District as a whole.
The piers will stabilize the soil against a potential earthquake condition known as liquefaction. “Those piers are like thick supports—they make the soil stable for any kind of load you put on it,” Jim explained. Jim added that concrete foundations for the buildings will go on top of the RAPs, and that it will take about five months to get back to the surface before crews start framing and going vertical.
As some crews work on stabilizing the soil, others will work on bringing down the last of the vestigial structures of the old mill. Among those structures we’ll remove: The drying building we’ve been using as the Velo Shed. We have been fortunate to hang on to these sheds for the last five years and bring our community together for fundraisers, concerts, rides, annual meetings, art installations and so much more. “It’s sad to see them go, but it’s time to make way for something new and beautiful,” Jim said. Overall, the first big milestone for Mill District will be Canopy, the 43 residences that eventually will ring our park facing Healdsburg Avenue.