As money is set to start flowing toward extension of North Bay commuter rail service to Healdsburg, a longtime lumber yard across the street from the northern Sonoma County city’s dilapidated train depot is gearing up to relocate.
Healdsburg Lumber Co. plans to move from its current site at 359 Hudson St. to nearly 4 acres purchased recently from Phoenix-based Capital Lumber at its distribution yard near at the south end of Healdsburg Avenue near Highway 101, according to Eric Ziedrich, president of HLC, Inc., which owns Healdsburg Lumber and several other construction-related ventures.
“One of these days, it’s anticipated the train will be coming here,” Ziedrich said.
Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit has been planning service between Larkspur and Cloverdale, but service started last year between San Rafael and north Santa Rosa because of limited funding.
Federal grants $22.5 million and $40 million from the newly passed Regional Measure 3 bridge-toll increase will be making it possible to roll trains to Larkspur next year then Windsor and Healdsburg in the next few years.
“There’s been a lumber yard in this current location since the 1870s,” Ziedrich said. “We’re entrenched here, but as so often happens in hold developments, we’ve been surrounded by residential development, making it less appropriate for an industrial operation.”
With construction activity in Sonoma County on the upswing in the past few years, HLC’s revenues have been rising. The retailer for building materials to supply contractors and do-it-yourselfers has been wanting to extend its hours, add truck trips in and out, and operate with split shifts, but that isn’t feasible anymore with nearby residents, Ziedrich said.
“People have talked about bringing transit-oriented development to the area around the train depots, so we’re anticipating it would be appropriate and feasible to move the industrial focus out of this area and pursue development of commercial, mixed-use and multifamily,” he said.
That’s the vision of the Central Healdsburg Avenue Plan, or CHAP, adopted by the City Council in 2013 in anticipation of the arrival of SMART trains. But the city has been working toward transformation of its downtown area from its agricultural and timber industrial past into a high-end tourism destination. A first step was bringing in the American Institute of Architects’s Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team in 1982, followed by the Entryways Revitalization Plan of 2003 and the general plans of 2009 and 2011.
CHAP called for reclassifying the Healdsburg Lumber property from industrial uses to mixed uses and medium-density residential and the 9.59-acre Nu Forest Products site along the downtown section of Healdsburg Avenue to mixed uses.
Since the plan was adopted, the land designations have changed and Nu Forest relocated to Cloverdale, selling the property to Vancouver, British Columbia-based developer Replay Resorts.
“Hopefully, Mr. Ziedrich stays in Healdsburg, and I think that’s reflected in the purchase of the property at the south end,” said David Mickaelian, city manager.
Old Redwood Realty, LLC, an entity Ziedrich manages, purchased 3.85 acres at 13480 Healdsburg Ave. from Capital Lumber on April 20 for $3 million, according to public records. Ziedrich said the goal of relocating the lumber yard and True Value hardware store then redeveloping it could be a decadelong project, but it likely will be in stages.
“The first step is to relocate the lumber yard,” he said. The portion of the Capital Lumber property has a lumber-storage building, but a retail store would need to be built. That will take design and permits. He’s envisioning that to take two years, but he’s preparing for it to take four.