SEBASTOPOL -- Developers of the Barlow Project on the edge of downtown Sebastopol are proposing a zoning change that could permit construction of a hotel.
The project's main developer, Barney Aldridge, said he's already identified a potential hotel partner, the Palisades Hospitality Group, which hopes to develop a two-story, 34,000-square-foot 60-room boutique hotel on three acres of vacant space at The Barlow. Average room rates could fall in the $270 per-night range, Mr. Aldridge said, which could appeal to a wide range of visitors and provide an economic boon to the city.
"We've got remaining vacant space here and it would be a really great location for a boutique hotel," Mr. Aldridge said, adding that Sebastopol lacks lodging options compared to other Sonoma County wine destinations and is therefore missing out on potential revenue.
The Palisades Hospitality Group, based in San Rafael, currently operates the Solage in Calistoga, the North Block Hotel in Yountville and the El Derado Hotel in downtown Sonoma.
"They specialize in kind of downtown, wine country boutique hotels," Mr. Aldridge said.
The Sebastopol City Council will consider the proposal Tuesday.
The Sebastopol Planning Commission earlier voted 7-0 not to recommend a zoning amendment that the hotel would require. It did recommend allowing convenience sales and services, but only for buildings along Sebastopol Avenue or McKinley Street that, unless granted a specific exception cannot exceed 1,000 square feet.
"Commissioners felt that the applicant did not adequately justify the amendment, had concerns about the appropriateness of this use in the (industrial) district, as well as concerns about flood safety issues," said Planning Director Kenyon Webster.
"There was also some discussion that there could be merit to a hotel at the Barlow," he added, "but that such an amendment might be more appropriate in the context of an actual hotel proposal where specific information about the proposed project could be provided and reviewed."
According to a staff report on the proposal, developers said the hotel "would complement Sebastopol as a whole by providing visitors with adequate lodging, and encouraging them to stay and explore the downtown core to generate sales and an overall pleasurable experience."
With respect to the convenience and sales services, Mr. Aldridge said The Barlow was seeking clarification because the industrial zoning permitted some business but not others that could possibly be a boon to the project. For example, the zoning allows for nurseries, but not florists, and food stores, but not convenient stores.
All told, The Barlow project, which reached shell completion earlier this year, consists of 96,000 square feet in 11 new industrial and retail oriented business. The 6.5-acre project property is bounded on the west and east by Depot and Morris streets and on the north and south by Laguna Parkway and Sebastopol Avenue.
The estimated cost of the project was between $8 million to $12 million when it was first proposed in 2010.