SANTA ROSA -- The outlook for residential construction plus striking examples of a rebound in North Bay construction activity -- the Bay Area's largest casino project, an intercounty commuter rail line, one of Petaluma's big shopping center projects and infrastructure for a local water and energy supply -- will be the focus of the Business Journal's Construction Conference the morning of May 15.

The keynote speaker at the conference will be Bob Glover, executive officer of the Building Industry Association of the Bay Area ( The organization represents about 300 home builders, trade contractors, suppliers and industry professionals in the region.

Among the issues the association has been tackling in recent months is the ongoing work by the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to create a Sustainable Communities Strategy. Currently in draft and environmental-review stages, the document calls for 80 percent of all new Bay Area housing be high-density developments and built in Priority Development Areas, which are nominated by local governments.

The regional BIA also has been trying to have ABAG revise its proposed fee of $35,000 per market-rate home to pay for construction of affordable housing. On a related matter, the association has been providing input on Santa Rosa's new study on the connection between market-rate housing and rentals and the need for affordable housing.

Other speakers at the conference will be talking about projects that are planned and under construction. Joe Hasson is vice president and general manager of Las Vegas-based Station Casinos, which is developing and will operate the Graton Resort & Casino project under construction in Rohnert Park. The $800 million project is set to open with about 3,000 gaming machines and 2,000 full-time employees in the 320,000-square-foot building. A 200-room hotel also is planned.

Greg Geertsen is managing partner of San Francisco-based commercial property developer Merlone Geier Partners, which plans to build Deer Creek Village, a 346,000-square-foot retail and office development on 36.5 acres along Highway 101 in Petaluma. Friedman’s Home Improvement has signed up to be the anchor tenant. Site work is set to begin in late May, and on buildings in June.

Amy Bolten is public information officer for Sonoma County Water Agency, original operator of the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program, provider of water for much of the county and north Marin County, and proponent of the proposed Sonoma Clean Power program. She is set to talk about projects related to all those endeavors.

Keith Tarkalson is project manager for Stacy Witbeck Herzog, the lead contractor for the first phases of the Sonoma-Marin Rail Transit commuter line, which eventually will stretch 70 miles from southern Marin County to northern Sonoma County. Work on crossings, sidings and bridges began in earnest in 2012 in anticipation for the first commuter trains to roll in 2016.

Register for the conference online by May 10 at or call 707-521-5270.

Correction, April 29, 2013: County of Sonoma General Services Department operates the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program. Sonoma County Water Agency, whose directors also are the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, was the original operator of the program.