Kaiser Permanente has secured a sizable south Petaluma office space, which could become one of a growing number of new mental health locations the care provider is setting up around Northern California.

This follows the opening of a behavioral health clinic in Santa Rosa last year, the purchase of a Solano County building recently for a similar purpose, and a settlement last year with the state of California over access to mental health treatment.

The Oakland-based not-for-profit health care organization signed a lease for 18,000 square feet on the first floor of a 144,000-square-foot office building at 1800 S. McDowell Blvd. in early March. The location is said to be planned for behavioral health, and the target move-in date is late summer or fall, depending on how long it takes to obtain building permits, according to real estate sources.

“While we have a standard practice of not commenting on rumors or speculation related to real estate transactions, we can confirm that evaluating potential new or replacement sites is part of our normal, day-to-day business operations,” Kaiser said in an email.

The organization has been operating general medical offices in a campus off Lakeville Highway at the south end of Petaluma for a number of years.

In October, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan purchased one of the largest office buildings in Fairfield, a two-story, 35,000-square foot building at 520 Chadbourne Road in Fairfield’s Busch InBev Corporate Center. That facility is expected to open this year, after renovations, as part of the provider’s expansion of behavioral health services in the Napa-Solano region, an area manager told the Business Journal.

In July, Kaiser opened a 60-office behavioral health center at 2235 Mercury Way in southwest Santa Rosa, staffed with 47 clinicians and 10 physicians.

Earlier the same month, California insurance regulators announced a settlement agreement with Kaiser to correct issues with oversight of and access to behavioral health services. It involved warnings dating back to 2012 by the California Department of Managed Health Care that Kaiser was violating state law by failing to get patients into appropriate treatment soon enough.

As a result, Kaiser in 2013 agreed to pay a $4 million fine — one of the largest ever paid by an insurer in the state. Between 2012 and May 2017, Kaiser had hired 850 more behavior health therapists and 188 additional specialized physicians, the department noted in the settlement.

Kaiser says its behavioral health services include treatment for conditions including attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), sleep problems, stress, autism and substance abuse.

Representing Kaiser Foundation Health Plan in the recent Petaluma lease was Jeff Negri of Cushman & Wakefield. Handling the deal for building owner Basin Street Properties were Steven Leonard, Trevor Buck and Brian Foster of Cushman & Wakefield.

The lease has been in the works since March 2017, according to Leonard. The deal fills the remaining vacant space in the building, also occupied by Ygrene Energy Fund, Camelbak, Clover Sonoma and Core Brands (formerly Panamax and Furman).

Jeff Quackenbush (jquackenbush@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4256) covers the wine business, construction and real estate.