The planned opening of the 131,000-square-foot Friedman's Home Improvement store on Friday leads several scheduled store openings at the new Deer Creek Village retail and office development in Petaluma this summer and fall.

Santa Rosa-based Friedman’s will have an 83,000-square-foot store, 32,000-square-foot nursery and greenhouse, and 35,000-square-foot dry shed for lumber and building supplies. The retailer started in Petaluma in 1946 and operated a store there until 1976. The store is the company's fourth and is set to employ 140.

Interesting elements of the store include an automated lumber stacking system that moves materials on and off racks and lifts, "living walls" of plants on either side of the entrance and a nursery greenhouse with automatically operating roof shading and venting.

The opening of the anchor tenant for the 315,000-square-foot center brings Merlone Geier Partners' seven-year development effort into a final phase, according to Greg Geertsen, managing partner. Merlone Geier acquired the property in August 2009. Proposals for a retail center there stretch back to 1994.

[caption id="attachment_91790" align="alignright" width="184"] "Living wall" at Friedman's Home Improvement store in Petaluma[/caption]

Under construction now are buildings that will house Habit Burger (set to open in late June), Togo's (July), Mary's Pizza Shack brewpub (August), and City Sports (likely in September). Negotiations for three other tenants in additional buildings on the property are in final stages.

So far, the $65 million center is 68 percent leased, Mr. Geertsen said.

Site work is set to be completed in four weeks, leaving pads for construction of other retail and office buildings on the property, located on 36.5 acres at the southwest corner of Rainier Avenue and North McDowell Boulevard adjacent to Highway 101.

San Rafael-based Ghilotti Construction is the site contractor. RMC Construction of Fresno is the general contractor. MCG Architects designed the project.

Also on the project team were 5280 Construction Management; Anza Environments; Hood Branded Environments; Freddie Freitas Jr. Construction, Petaluma; Rhodes Retail Services; The Graphc Source; Atteo's Xtreme Installation Services, Rohnert Park; Dan Pendergraft; Mission Electric; Krauter Auto; Stacked Steel; Ross Clarke Material Handling; Ahlborn Steel, Santa Rosa; Expressway Transport, Petaluma; Blinds Direct, Petaluma; MVG Molded Products, Petaluma; Custom Design Countertops, Santa Rosa; Office Furniture World, Santa Rosa; Fishman Supply, Petaluma; The Ratto Group, Santa Rosa; Signal Solutions; and Fishpond Recruiting, Novato.***

As tenant improvements work toward the August opening of MacPhail Family Wines in a new location at The Barlow at the eastern entrance of Sebastopol, the new 12.5-acre commercial complex is welcoming four new tenants. Also, the first round of designs for a hotel in one of the buildings has been completed.

The 215,000 square feet of available space is 98 percent leased, with just 6,000 square feet in three spaces available, according to developer Barney Aldridge.

Chef Mark Hopper, former executive chef at Farmshop Marin and of casual dining for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group brings his passion for handcrafted pizza to The Barlow with the launch of his first solo project: Vignette. The indoor-outdoor restaurant at 6750 McKinley St. will serve a Neapolitan-style pizza and seasonal or available antipasti with craft beers and wines.

Food truck caterer Ultra Crepes will be rolling into a permanent home at 6760 McKinley St., Ste. 120. It offers savory and sweet made-to-order crepes.

The Nectary juice bar at 6760 McKinley St., Ste. 130, will serve an assortment of delicious all-organic, fresh-pressed juices, "super food" smoothies and probiotic beverages accompanied by acai bowls and other living and raw food snacks and sweet treats.

The Passdoor at 6780 McKinley St., Ste. 150, will offer functional products and artwork for the home , workspace and gifts. Owner and curator Jennifer Edwards spent more than 30 years in the fine home furnishings industry offers a modern art inspired home goods from both local and international artisans, such as Stelton and Piet Hein of Denmark.

MacPhail was originally set to occupy a corner building that bears the name "Barlow" the side. However, that's where the planned hotel at the complex is envisioned.

Design for a 58-room hotel in a renovated corner building bearing the name "Barlow" on the site was completed earlier this year. The hotel is set to have a swimming pool, exercise facility, full-service spa and restaurant with bar, according to Mr. Aldridge.

The planned operator is San Rafael-based Palisades Hospitality Group, whose local experience includes Solage Hotels & Resorts such as in Calistoga, El Dorado Hotel and Kitchen on the Sonoma Plaza and North Block Hotel in Yountville.

A formal use-permit application was submitted to the city earlier this year. Traffic and air-quality impact studies are expected to be completed in the next couple of months. The goal is for a hearing before the Planning Commission around that time, but no dates have been set.

The first of four planned rounds of bidding are set to open in August or September, Mr. Aldridge said. A rough goal is for opening the hotel in late 2015.***

Six years after its approval, a Wal-Mart Supercenter store is set to break ground next week on Highway 12 east of Suisun City.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the 177,535-square-foot store at Peterson and Fulmar roads is scheduled for April 24 at 4 p.m., according to a city announcement.

Upon its expected opening in spring 2015, the 24-hour store will employ about 300 (walmartcareers.com) and is designed to carry fresh produce, baked goods, deli foods, meats and seafood, in addition to household goods, apparel, electronics and outdoor garden center.

The City Council approved the 227,000-square-foot Walters Road West store, restaurant and gas station project in 2008 to give the city a major retailer of everyday products and bolster city finances. Since the economic recession, the city said it has been propping up its finances by cutting services, freezing hiring and trimming pay, while relying on the sale of surplus property.

Soon after approval, opponents of the project, led by Suisun Alliance, challenged the environmental studies in Solano County Superior Court then appealed to the state First District Court of Appeal. In August 2010, the appellate court upheld the city’s approvals. That ruling was not appealed.

Wal-Mart had been working with state and federal regulatory agencies to secure the necessary permits.

The general contractor for the project is Eleven Western Builders of Escondido. The project engineer is Robert A. Karn & Associates (RAK Engineers) of Fairfield.***

The American Institute of Certified Planners inducted urban planner Thomas Jacobson, JD, AICP, of Rohnert Park into the elite membership of AICP’s College of Fellows April 27 at a black-tie ceremony held in conjunction with the American Planning Association’s 2014 National Planning Conference in Atlanta.

“The AICP College of Fellows recognizes planners who have made exceptional contributions to their communities and to the planning profession,” said President Lee Brown. “They represent the vanguard of the profession, demonstrating outstanding achievements and excellence whether through professional practice, planning research, teaching and mentoring, or community service and leadership.”

Mr. Jacobson is an environmental studies and planning professor and past department chair at Sonoma State University and is director of the university’s Center for Sustainable Communities, which he founded in 2007.

In addition to his university career, he has spent 25 years teaching continuing education courses for planning professionals, citizen planners and others engaged in planning better communities.

Shortly after started teaching at Sonoma University in 1994, he developed one of the first courses in the country on planning for sustainable communities. That led work with Marin County on its countywide plan in 2007.

More recently, he has developed a course on Planning for Healthy Communities, funded through a partnership with Sonoma County, a recipient of a Community Transformation Grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A member of the California State Bar and past president of the California Planning Roundtable, Mr. Jacobson is recognized as an AICP Fellow for contributions in teaching and mentoring. He received his law degree from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law in 1987, his masters’ degree in city planning from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1987 and his bachelor of arts in liberal studies from Sonoma State University in 1976.

Currently there are over 15,000 practicing planners in North America and elsewhere with the AICP certification. Of those, approximately 500 belong to the AICP College of Fellows.***

To coincide with American Wetlands Month, which began May 1, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched what it calls the most comprehensive and detailed U.S. wetland data set ever produced, capping a 35-year effort by the agency to map the extent of the nation’s wetlands.

Wetlands Inventory Mapper (fws.gov/wetlands/Data/Mapper.html) has digitally mapped and made publically available wetlands in the lower 48 states, Hawaii and dependent territories, as well as 35 percent of Alaska.

"It is an invaluable aid to landowners, developers, government planners and permitting authorities, conservation organizations and academic institutions in their collective efforts to ensure wetland conservation and inform economic development," the agency said in the announcement....

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