Input sought for Placer County Fairgrounds renovations

First phase will renovate parking lot and existing buildings
By: Graham Womack, Staff Writer
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Placer Valley Tourism CEO David Attaway glances at an overhead shot of where a 5,000-person-capacity events complex could stand in a few years at the Placer County Fairgrounds in Roseville.

It’s barren, empty land that has been used for fair-related events, adjacent to aging buildings on-site. But Attaway doesn’t find it depressing.

“We like to look at it as an amazing opportunity for improvement,” he said.

Before the events center can be built, though, other work must be undertaken at the fairgrounds, including paving of a parking lot, renovations to Jones and Johnson halls on-site and frontage improvements on Washington Boulevard, at a cost of approximately $8 million split between Placer County and the tourism group.

To this end, Placer Valley Tourism will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. May 31 at Johnson Hall to discuss the first phase of work, which will begin in early July after this year’s Placer County Fair.

Attaway said 12,000 postcards were sent out May 17 for the meeting, which will be a good opportunity for feedback.

“What we hear is input,” Attaway said. “As our team presents this to the community, they say, ‘Ah, have you thought about this? Have you thought about that?’ So that’s really what it’s (about.)”

Architectural firm Williams+Paddon, which has offices in Sacramento and Roseville, has been working on the designs.

“Literally, we’re making iterations daily or weekly,” Attaway said.

A vision is starting to emerge for Jones and Johnson halls, two aging buildings that face one another and housed evacuees during the recent Oroville Dam spillway disaster.

Attaway said these buildings will be given a facelift that could help them to house tradeshows and other events in the future.

“We create this connectivity for the entire space,” Attaway said. “It’s really to turn it into a much more pedestrian campus as opposed to vehicular.”

The first phase of work will not require environmental review since it concerns renovations to existing buildings.

Attaway said that if the permitting and CEQA process for the events complex wraps up by next March, as hoped, construction could get underway in April.

He said Placer Valley Tourism is looking to borrow about $36 million in total for its project, through bonding it will repay at roughly $2 million annually.

He’s optimistic all of the work will pay off for his members, hoteliers throughout the South Placer region.

“It will work,” Attaway said. “It will. Just because today, even in its current status, (the fairgrounds host) 80-some events a year, with no salesperson.”