SANTA ROSA – The Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit has opened the doors to its SMART Santa Rosa project office.

The office will be the headquarters for the design, engineering and construction of the rail project, set to be completed in 2014, according to Chris Coursey, spokesman for SMART.

“It is an expansion of our San Rafael office, which will remain SMART’s administrative headquarters,” he said.

SMART will have 14 stations along the Highway 101 corridor in Sonoma and Marin counties that will connect with other transportation, such as buses and the Larkspur Ferry.

There will be an estimated 14 roundtrip trains per day, every half hour during commuter times.

The lease on the 4,300-square-foot space is for five years, set to take the project through completion. The deal was brokered by SMART’s real estate manager Rob Krantz and Niels von Doepp from Cassidy Turley/BT Commercial. The property is owned by West Bay Builders.

“We leased this much space to anticipate growing needs as the project evolves from startup to construction. We also got a great deal on the meeting and overflow—$1.20 a square foot.  The main office was $1.80 a square foot—less than half of what we pay in downtown San Rafael,” said Mr. Coursey.

About eight people work out of the office, four employees and four contractors.

SMART is in the property-acquisition phase and is still projecting a $155 million shortfall in construction funds, according to Mr. Coursey.

“However, we are working to find other revenue sources, and with the money we do have coming in we are working hard on the design and engineering needed to build the whole project. We will finish advanced conceptual engineering this summer, which will give us a much more accurate cost estimate for every element of the project. At this point we are on schedule to have trains running in 2014.”

The space is also used for board committee meetings as well as real estate, operations and executive board meetings. The real estate and executive board meetings started Wednesday of last week.