Work on the century-old Octagon Barn property in San Luis Obispo is underway, and the historic site is expected to be open for weddings, concerts and public meetings by 2018.
The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County is managing a $5.5 million project to restore and upgrade the site for public use. The property is located just south of the city limits at at 4400 Octagon Way.
The nonprofit recently started work to restore the site’s 1938 milking parlor. The organization also is continuing upgrades of the eight-sided barn — one of only two left standing in California, according to Kaila Dettman, the Land Conservancy’s executive director.
The iconic Pereira-Octagon Barn was built in 1906 for dairy farming, and it’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
“This barn was owned by familiar names of people who played influential roles in the community over the years — the Pereiras, Garcias, Sinsheimers and Hayashis,” Dettman said. “We even know that a baby was born in the barn in the early 1900s.”
When the barn was nearly crumbling to the ground, the Land Conservancy began is restoration work in 1997. The barn still needs a concrete floor and sprinklers, however.
Upon its completion, the upgraded site now owned by the Hayashi family and leased by the Conservancy for 99 years will feature a Bob Jones trailhead with amenities, a calf barn, the 5,000-square-foot Octagon Barn (with event space for up to 200 people), a barn commons space, an amphitheater, and the milking parlor (with meeting space for 100 people).
“Our work is underway, and things are looking good,” Dettman said. “We’re just going to need the public’s help to raise that last portion. I think we’ve turned over every rock for government grants from the county and city.”
The Conservancy has raised more than $5.1 million raised so far from government grants, foundation donations and private gifts.
The new center expects to attract at least 150,000 visitors annually through events, biking, education and tourism.
The parking lot is slated to provide 112 spaces, where people can leave their cars and head off on the city-to-the-sea Bob Jones Trail.
Later this summer, the county expects to begin work on the lot and turn lane on South Higuera Street to serve visitors of the property.
$5.5 milliontotal cost of Octagon Barn site project
The county will soon begin the planning process for a 4.5-mile leg of the Bob Jones Trail from the Ontario Road staging area to the Octagon Barn site. It’s now negotiating easements for the pathway.
The county doesn’t have a definite timeline for the leg, but the funding for its planning and design is in place, said Shaun Cooper, a county senior park planner.
A request for proposal of consultant design work has gone out, and the county will apply for grants for construction in spring 2018. The county expects to start construction of the stretch to the barn by 2020 once its planning and design process is complete. Construction is expected to cost $10 million, Cooper said.
Once the section to the Octagon Barn is complete, the city of San Luis Obispo will take over the final leg, connecting the trail into the downtown area, completing the bike and pedestrian link between Avila Beach and San Luis Obispo.