PETALUMA -- The return of Friedman's Home Improvement to Petaluma after nearly four decades is moving forward as the site is being prepared for a store in a new 315,000-square-foot mixed-use center in the city.

[caption id="attachment_77307" align="alignleft" width="385"] When the Friedman's Home Improvement Center at Deer Creek Village in Petaluma is completed, set for next March, it will feature two large "living walls" and larger parking spaces for contractor trucks.[/caption]

Santa Rosa-based Ghilotti Construction Company in early July started preparing the 9.5-acre site for a Friedman’s store at Deer Creek Village. The store is scheduled to open in March 2014.

Deer Creek Village (deercreekproject.com), being developed by San Francisco-based Merlone Geier Partners, covers 36.5 acres at the southwest corner of Rainier Avenue and North McDowell Boulevard adjacent to Highway 101.

“Both the Friedman family and MGP owe a special thanks to community leaders and others who championed this project,” said Greg Geertsen, managing partner of Merlone Geier Partners. “With support from City Council members Mike Healy, Gabe Kearney, Chris Albertson and Mike Harris, Petaluma will benefit from having a local home improvement store and 800 new jobs in this community.”

Deer Creek Village is 60 percent leased, and five tenant lease proposals are in process. It is expected to create 500 permanent retail and office jobs plus 300 construction jobs during the 12- to 18-month building cycle.

The general contractor for the $50 million project is RMC Constructors, Inc., of Fresno. Petaluma-based Midstate Construction served as the construction management firm.

When completed, the development will have 315,000 square feet of retail and office space plus six acres of open space. A new delineation of the wetlands and creek restoration with pedestrian bridges will create a community amenity with walking and cycling paths along with rest and exercise stations.

Friedman’s Home Improvement will have an 80,000-square-foot store, 20,000-square-foot garden center and 35,000-square-foot dry shed to house lumber and building supplies.No Petaluma store since 1976

“This is the second time Friedman’s has come to Petaluma,” said Barry Friedman, who became president and CEO of the family owned company on June 2. “The company was founded here, so we feel like we’re coming home again.”

Founded by Joe and Ben Friedman in 1946, Friedman’s opened its first location in rented retail space on East Washington Street. The family opened the Santa Rosa store in 1971 and operated both locations until 1976, when the Petaluma site was closed due to declining building conditions. That structure was later destroyed by fire.

Mr. Friedman said the overall architectural plan of the new Petaluma store, by Anza Design principals Dale Hoover and Joe Harvard, has a dynamic entrance and a three-gable greenhouse that gives this facility an entirely new look and feel compared with the firm’s primary location on Old Redwood Highway in Santa Rosa.

“It’s our first opportunity to establish a new definition of our brand,” Mr. Friedman said.

In his view, Friedman’s has always been a “customer-focused, community-based business with legendary service and a history of good neighbor-to-neighbor dialogue.” One example of this close relationship is the firm’s response to demand for larger parking spaces. 

“Many of our parking stalls will be a foot wider -- 10 feet wide by 19 feet long -- to accommodate light-duty trucks and contractor vehicles,” said David Proctor, chief financial officer for Friedman’s. “We will also have 14 to 16 checkout stations in separate areas, including a special checkout exclusively for professional contractors.”

The way customers pay for items outside in the dry shed and yard area is the only difference between how Friedman’s will operate in Petaluma compared with its Santa Rosa location.

“Petaluma has a no-drive-through ordinance, meaning customers cannot pay for their purchases in the yard,” Mr. Proctor said. "Shoppers will have to prepay inside the store and take the receipt and order tag to the pickup point."

With concern for the environment, Friedman’s wants its new location to be as sustainable as possible. The dry shed will be equipped for a photovoltaic array on the roof to be installed in the future.Store to have 'living walls'

A signature feature of the new Friedman’s store is a pair of 30-foot-square "living walls" with variety of climbing perennial plants that create a living and changing tapestry. A rain-sensing system will capture and recirculate water to a drip system for those walls.

Passive infrared “Watt Stopper” dual technology occupancy sensors will help reduce energy use, and skylights throughout the complex will maximize natural sunlight.

A total of 1,277 parking stalls will be built at the village, of which 1,228 are standard, 49 are accessible and 27 are for preferred parking for low-emission and fuel-efficient vehicles. Some 150 bicycle racks also will be provided to encourage alternative travel.

High-efficiency, low-emission heating and cooling air systems will be used throughout the center and Energy Star-certified roofing systems with a high solar reflectivity index will be used to minimize heat gain. Skylights will be deployed when possible. 

Overall, the project is being planned to exceed California's Title 24 energy requirements and has been built to comply with the Build It Green program in Petaluma.

Dual-flush water closets and low-flow lavatory fixtures will be installed throughout the complex. Drought-tolerant plants and smart irrigation controllers will reduce water consumption.

Nonhazardous construction materials will be recycled or salvaged, and recycled building materials will be used as applicable.

Water quality will be protected with on-site pervious paving surfaces and landscaping bioswales. All the on-site drainage will be captured and treated before being discharged to the creek.