[caption id="attachment_89210" align="alignnone" width="500"] Work to transform the AT&T building in downtown Santa Rosa into a modern office building is set to begin in March. (rendering courtesy of TLCD Architecture)[/caption]

SANTA ROSA -- Major renovation of the former AT&T telephone switching building in downtown Santa Rosa and American AgCredit's 120,000-square-foot new headquarters north of the city are poised to move to construction in the next month.

Together, they are set to transform the entryways to the heart of Santa Rosa and to the business parks adjacent to Charles M. Schulz--Sonoma County Airport.

Redevelopment of the vacant five-story AT&T building into a modern office building has been an economic development goal for years and in the works in fits and starts since the former city redevelopment agency bought it in 2007.

Museum on the Square, LLC, an affiliate of Santa Rosa-based developer Hugh Futrell Corp., purchased the building from the city in October for just over $1 million and is gearing up to start construction this month on the $16 million, 92,000-square-foot project. Completion is set for 2015.

"Assuming our construction loan closes in the next few days, which seems probable but is not guaranteed, we will be under construction during the next 10 days," Hugh Futrell told the Business Journal on Wednesday.

Key tenants are to be Luther Burbank Savings for headquarters in 32,000 square feet on the fourth and fifth floors, project designer TLCD Architecture in 16,000 square feet on the third floor and 12,000 square feet donated to the newly formed California Wine Museum on a level below ground. The museum reportedly is raising $2.5 million for improvements and exhibits.

Remaining to lease are 15,000 square feet of office space and 11,000 square feet of street-level restaurant space. Marketing for that is set to start when construction begins, Mr. Futrell said.

The project involves adding windows on the north and south sides of the windowless building, originally built to protect equipment inside from catastrophes as extreme as nuclear explosions. An early design called for adding five stories to the structure for housing, but that was dropped as economic conditions worsened. A plan for a glass wall on the north side reportedly was dropped late last year because the cost of glazing has spiked with a surge in Bay Area construction.Ag office center at the airport

[caption id="attachment_84936" align="alignnone" width="500"] The exterior of American AgCredit's new headquarters near Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport is designed to take advantage of changing light patterns throughout the day. (rendering courtesy of TLCD Architecture)[/caption]

American AgCredit plans to give the green light to project general contractor Jim Murphy & Associates of Santa Rosa to break ground on the office building at the end of April, according to Don Tomasi, a principal architect of project designer TLCD Architecture.

Based on favorable preliminary design review meetings with county officials and limited comments received on needed changes, the project team is moving forward with design review and building permit processes simultaneously, he said.

"The owners had a tight timeframe from day one," Mr. Tomasi said.

Completion of the three-story structure, to be built on 7.5 acres at the northwest corner of Airport and Aviation boulevards , is anticipated in November 2015. The lender currently has 100 employees in 32,000 square feet of offices nearby.

The Santa Rosa-based agricultural lender plans to occupy about 85,000 square feet and lease the rest to agriculturally focused agencies and trade groups. Those include Sonoma County Vintners, Sonoma Winegrowers, Sonoma County Tourism and Sonoma County Farm Bureau.

American AgCredit originally planned to build a 50,000-square-foot headquarters when it purchased the first 3.5 acres at the site in October 2012.