Orchard worker housing project underway in Mattawa

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  • Bob Kirkpatrick/The Sun Tribune Framers are erecting walls on the second floor in one of two apartment buildings currently under construction. The structures will be enclosed in the next week or so.

  • 1

    Bob Kirkpatrick/The Sun Tribune Concrete workers are making forms for one or two remaining buildings in phase one of the project.

  • Bob Kirkpatrick/The Sun Tribune Framers are erecting walls on the second floor in one of two apartment buildings currently under construction. The structures will be enclosed in the next week or so.

  • 1

    Bob Kirkpatrick/The Sun Tribune Concrete workers are making forms for one or two remaining buildings in phase one of the project.

MATTAWA — The first of three phases of the Washington Growers League housing project for Starr Ranch Custom Orchards being built on a 5-acre plat on Pat Chee Drive is in full swing.

The development, aimed solely at the temporary labor market, broke ground in September. Mike Gempler, executive director of WGL, said things are moving along rather smoothly.

“There have been no obstacles to date. The weather has been pretty mild, a bit windy but conditions are good,” he said. “We’re right on schedule. I’m feeling pretty good about it. It’s been a good project so far.”

Two of four buildings in phase one are in the framing stage and slabs have been poured for the other two. One of the four structures is slated for the office and manager’s apartment; the others will house the temporary workers. The cost of phase one construction, Gempler said, is $4.5 million. “There’ll be 144 beds for employees. We’re anticipating completion and occupancy on April 1 of 2018.”

The second phase of the project is slated to begin immediately thereafter.

“Construction on phase two will start pretty much seamlessly following the completion of phase one,” Gempler said. “There will be a fourth building with 192 beds ready for occupancy in the spring of 2019.”

The final phase of the project, which will also consist of four buildings and 192 beds, is supposed to be complete and ready to occupy in the spring of 2020.

The Washington Growers League is based out of Yakima. According to information posted on its website, WGL is a non-profit, non-partisan association formed exclusively to assist and represent agricultural employers on labor and employment issues. “We are the labor specialists in the industry and provide vital human resource services to agricultural employers in Washington state. Members of the Washington Growers League can rely on assistance from a professional staff with expertise in the legal, housing and safety requirements unique to the agricultural industry.”

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