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Bastille: New ramp

An architectural rendering from Townsend Architects shows a proposed ramp addition to The Bastille. City Council approved the renovations that would help the structure meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. The ramp was among updates in the ongoing process of renovating several historic buildings in the Downtown Hanford.

Future visitors to the Bastille will have easier access to the building once proposed renovations are completed.

During a Hanford City Council study session Tuesday night, handicap-access ramps and parking lot changes were approved as part of the ongoing renovation plans for the building.

The Bastille, built in 1897, served as Kings County’s jail until 1964.

It housed a variety of restaurants from about 1977 to 2009, but has sat vacant for the past few years.

Tulare’s Lane Engineers are designing engineering and architectural upgrades and this is their latest update.

A structural engineer with the firm, John Atilano, and Public Works Director Lou Camara presented access and parking lot changes during their presentation at a City Council study session.

“It seemed like the west side of the building was the logic spot for (the ramp),” Camara said.

The ramp was changed to use wrought iron rather than wood to eliminate a blind spot that might have created a loitering area, he said.

A building that is not tied to the building and has no historical significance will be removed to make way for the ramp, Atilano said.

Atilano showed several renderings from Townsend Architects to illustrate what the ramp would look like once it’s completed.

Atilano said the ramp would give access from the front of the building and from the courthouse yard. A window would be removed and a doorway created to allow entry.

The renovations will help the building meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. The law ensures equal access for persons with disabilities.

Council unanimously approve the ramp design and suggested lighting be added before rather than after the ramp is completed. The goal is to get the Bastille structurally ready for a tenant. Depending on the use of the building, a tenant may need to pay for additional ADA-compliance renovations on the interior of the building, Atilano said.

Councilman Russ Curry asked whether the upgrades are will completely address all needed renovations or whether more work will be needed?

“That was my question. Is this to preserve the building rather than just to get a tenant in there?”

Atilano confirmed that the work the architects are currently addressing electrical, seismic, ADA compliance and roof work, but that more work will need to take place once a tenant is in place.

“It really depends on the use. If it’s going to be an office, you really need a lot less bathrooms versus a restaurant where you’d need more fixtures in there. Why spend the money to fix something that might need to be renovated once a tenant comes in?”

Camara said after the architectural plans are finalized, the project will be sent out to bid by mid summer. He’s hopeful construction will begin by early fall.

The Bastille is considered to be in “very good” condition, except for the roof. The city has already budgeted $250,000 for those repairs. An earlier report estimated structural and electrical improvements would cost about $573,000. The building also needs seismic reinforcement, exterior wall repairs and accessibility upgrades.

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