Large retail projects move toward reality

Several large retail construction projects are reaching completion or getting started in Sonoma County this year in Petaluma, Sebastopol and Windsor.

From early financing challenges to local opposition to the original 300-home concept to two fires during construction, the redevelopment of the former Barlow Co. apple-processing plant at the eastern gateway to Sebastopol has faced a number of challenges. Construction on 96,000 square feet in 11 new industrial and retail oriented buildings that are part of The Barlow business park (707-824-5600, started early last year and reached shell completion early this year.

"Tenants are in the midst of tenant improvements," said April Karr, marketing director.

The first of the couple of dozen signed tenants set to move in to the new space was Kosta Browne Winery's crush operation, which made it in time for the mammoth 2012 harvest. The first public-facing tenant presence is a tasting room for La Follette Wines, which was set to open in mid-March. Several more are scheduled to open in mid-April and the rest are set for tenant-improvement completion throughout this year.

The complex contains beverage production facilities such as longtime tenant Guayaki Yerba Mate plus soon-to-open Spirit Works Distillery, Wind Gap Wines, Woodfour Brewing Co., Warped Brewing Co. and Taylor Maid Farms coffee roaster and tea supplier.

Two buildings that burned down in the fire were being rebuilt last week. MacPhail Winery has a production facility going into one. In the other, newcomer Freeman Wines is set to have a tasting room in a couple thousand of the 12,000-square-foot structure.

[gallery link="file" order="DESC" columns="2"]Two new regional malls in Petaluma

Dirt is set to start moving in early May on the 36.5-acre, 315,000-square-foot Deer Creek Village (415-693-9000, shopping and professional office project site between Highway 101 and North McDowell Boulevard and south of Rainier Avenue, according to Greg Geertsen, a partner with project owner Merlone Geier Partners of San Francsico.

That would clear the way for construction to start in June on a 130,000-square-foot Friedman's Home Improvement store, lumber shed and garden center to anchor the $65 million project. Three smaller retail buildings along North McDowell as well as improvements to Deer Creek, which runs across the northern quarter of the site, a dog park and trail would be built at the same time as the Friedman's store.

"We're happy to get started there," Mr. Geertsen said. Midstate Construction of Petaluma has been estimating costs, and bids on the site work is set to open in early April.

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