Case Studies

Terrace Heights Elementary School

Building a New School for the Children of the Future
  • Written by: Emma Bouthillette
  • Produced by: Terrace Heights Elementary School
  • Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Terrace Heights Elementary School (THES) in Yakima, Wash., was an old building outgrown by the student population and beyond repair. The East Valley School District teamed up with Chervenell Construction Co. (Chervenell) to build a brand new school on the existing site.


The construction company broke ground in September 2012, working with Loofburrow Wetch Architects on the design. The $10.4 million project is expected to take just over a year to complete.


The new THES facility will be one story with 57,000 square feet of usable space on 10.5 acres of land. Chervenell began the new construction effort with the demolition of the old school, including abatement of hazardous materials and soil remediation.


The new school will feature an oversized gymnasium, 26 classrooms, playfields and up-to-date technology. The structure is planned to use mostly wood framing and masonry with structural steel in the gym. As of late spring, the brick and siding on the exterior was finished and windows and doors were in place. Chervenell began working on interior finishes in the classrooms.


Outside the building, the school’s playground equipment is already installed. The equipment is intended to offer outdoor time for students, which is made possible by the $100,000 raised by Terrace Heights Parent Teacher Association.


Chervenell is using the newest part of the school, built in 1996, in the upgraded design. Space from the demolished area will mostly be used for storage, which is needed for the school. The district’s superintendent foresees the improvements as a boost to the children’s learning environment.


Experience Wins the Bid


Gary Chervenell founded the general construction company in 1975. Kyle Clark, project manager for Chervenell, is overseeing the THES project. Clark has worked with the company for six years and believes the company has an edge on its competitors.


“We have had changes, but something we take pride in is always completing projects faster and better than our competitors,” he says. That’s something the school district is seeing first hand with the THES project. Less than half way through the estimated building time, Chervenell is already working on the inside installing drywall and finishing carpentry.


Chervenell has done a number of projects within the educational sector. The company is working in conjunction with the school district and Washington’s State Department of Ecology (DOE) to ensure soil remediation is done properly.


The site the new school is being built on was a former orchard. The DOE conducted tests that revealed elevated levels of lead and arsenic. These results qualified the project within the DOE funding cycle, which allowed for the remediation to be done in conjunction with the construction. Ultimately, this will leave the site for the community to use and with contamination fully encapsulated.


Clark feels his company shines when working in collaborative situations. “Chervenell believes transparency and trust are key factors in a successful project,” Clark says. “The ability to work with design teams and owners to provide a better overall project is something we bring to the table from day one.”


The company also has a plan in place for vetting subcontractors. Clark explains Chervenell works with a core group of subcontractors for trades needed in a given project. The company does accept bids and will work with low bidders, but those who provide lower prices that Chervenell hasn’t work with need to be prequalified. Having a team of subcontractors who have a proven track record help a construction project move forward with minimal interruption.


Plans for Completion


Chervenell is slightly ahead of schedule. The school district has recognized seeing steady changes in updates to parents. With the building closed in, parents and teachers are seeing what the future of elementary education looks like.


This is a relief for the school district and those working to bring the project to fruition. About a year before breaking ground on the project, rumors circulated in the community that state-matching funds would not be available for the project. The school’s superintendent was quick to debunk those rumors.


Chervenell features nearly three dozen education-related construction project on its website. With extensive experience within the educational sector, Chervenell is accustomed to working with a variety of funding sources. With the multiple funding resources, the company is also accustomed to rumors that circulated.


A YouTube video posted in January 2011 depicts the poor conditions the old school offered to students. Cramped spaces, a kitchen not suitable for cooking, poor ventilation systems and water damage were featured in that video. It’s sure that once Chervenell Construction Co. will change all that once work is completed on Terrace Heights Elementary School by November 2013.


For more information on Terrace Heights Elementary School please visit:


For more information on Chervenell Construction Co. please visit:

Published on: September 26, 2013

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