By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Castle like bingo hall expansion draws debate
A bingo hall expansion proposed by the Assyrian Club of Urhai was approved by members of the Ceres Planning Commission on Nov. 7. But some were less than enthusiastic about the castle-like design proposed for the structure.

In a 4-1 vote, the commission approved an Architectural and Site Plan Approval (ASPA) to allow for a 7,171 square foot addition to the south of the existing bingo hall at 2016 Central Avenue (north of Ceres High School.) The single-story addition will result in a 16,283 square foot facility.

The existing two-story building - operating as a bingo hall since 1990 - was damaged in a June fire but the club was already in the process of planning an addition.

The commission wrestled with the proposed facade makeover to give the bingo hall a castle like appearance, similar to the Assyrian Cultural Center on the west side of Highway 99 on Central Avenue. City staff planners told commissioners, however, that the city has no restrictions on the types of elevations that may be used in the commercial area. While admitting that the proposed building design doesn't seem to fit in with the surrounding uses - which date back to architectures of the 1950s - Commissioner Mike Kline supported the project.

Board chairman Bob Kachel said he didn't recognize an architectural theme in the block south of Caswell Avenue.

Commissioner Hugo Molina said other than some concerns about the castle style not fitting in, the project will be a positive addition to Ceres. Molina also stated that the neighboring commercial buildings are not likely to be remodeled in the near future.

"I was not willing to decline it on basis of the looks," said Molina. "To me it's more of it goes along with their cultural thing. For example, the Sikh temples all look the same as what they do in India and that hasn't been a reason to deny them."

When it came to a vote, Kline, Molina, Kachel and fellow commissioner Gary Del Nero voted to approve the plan while Laurie Smith voted against it. The commissioners, however, expressed a desire to see the club work with city staff on developing a compromise on architecture.

Kachel noted that the municipal code does not allow for architectural review standards other than Mitchell Road Corridor Specific Plan.

The castle design will be achieved by 28-foot-tall tower-like columns along the west and south ends and varying elevations ranging from 16 to 24 feet for the rest of the building. The color schemes call for beige and blue-grey stamped stucco with scores lines to give a brick appearance as well as stone veneer treatments.