Construction: Friedman's store opening leads Petaluma center's main phase

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.

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