PETALUMA -- Santa Rosa-based Friedman's Home Improvement at a preview Wednesday evening of its new 131,000-square-foot Petaluma store said it plans to open on May 9, returning a store to Petaluma after a nearly four-decade absence.

President and CEO Barry Friedman made the announcement before about 900 invited guests to the store, located off North McDowell Boulevard as the largest tenant in the new Deer Creek Village shopping Center.

"This is a pretty emotional night for our family," he said, joined by his mother, Suzie Friedman, and uncle Harry Friedman on a platform hoisted above the crowd on a lift.

Bill Friedman, the second generation of ownership in the 68-year-old family company and unable to attend because of an illness, recalled in written comments read by his wife, Suzie, that sign left in the window of the previous Petaluma store: "Moved to Santa Rosa. Will return." That store had opened April 6, 1946, at 17 E. Washington Ave.

"Petaluma, thank you for leaving the light on for us," he wrote.

The store is set to employ 140.

[gallery link="file" order="DESC" columns="1"]Friedman's Home Improvement by the numbersStores: Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Ukiah and PetalumaEmployees: More than 500Estimated 2013 revenue: $110 millionFounded: 1946 by Benny and Joseph Friedman in PetalumaPetaluma store by the numbersAcres: 10.5 acresSquare footage: 83,000Retail square footage: 74,500KB design center square footage: 4,500Nursery square footage: 19,000Greenhouse square footage: 13,000Parking: 250Yard: 3.25 acresDry shed square footage: 35,000Products in stock: 41,000Employees: 140Key elementsKitchen and bath design center on the second floor (mezzanine)Doors and windows showroomNursery greenhouse: comfortable shopping environment year-round. Automatically controlled with a roof-top weather station, creating optimum growing and maximum water-saving.Express Yard on Display: convenient way to shop yard merchandise while still inside the storeExpress Yard: easy to navigate and get what you need quickly.Autostack lumber rack system: efficiency in storing lumber allowing for broader product selection."Living walls": A statement of beautify and sustainability. Automatically watered with reclaimed water from roof rain-harvesting system.Green building elements:

Dry shed is preplumbed and built with a standing-seemed metal roof, ready for solar installation in the near future.Concrete uses higher levels of recycled content than industry standards.Bioswales in the parking lot catch and naturally filter silt and pollution from rain and runoff water, to enhance groundwater recharge.