2 decades in the making: Construction starts on 1st of 1,750 homes at SOMO Village in Rohnert Park
It’s been nearly two decades since the transformation of a former HP plant in southeast Rohnert Park started, and now construction of the first homes are underway.
SOMO Living on Thursday commemorated the start of construction on the first 148 homes out of 1,750 planned in three phases on 175 acres of the SOMO Village mixed-use project on Valley House Drive. In addition to the existing 600,000 square feet of commercial buildings, the project is set to have a 25-acre working organic farm and 38.5 acres of parks and open space.
Century Communities of Greenwich Village, Colorado, was named as the builder of the first phase. Among its current endeavors are two projects in Solano County. The first SOMO Village homes are set to come on the market in early 2024, with pricing expected to start in the $700,000 range.
“I wasn’t sure this day was ever going to come,” said SOMO Living CEO Brad Baker to the crowd that had gathered in front of the former high-tech buildings in the complex. “It is 15 years late.”
The family of real estate developer Hugh Codding purchased the property in 2005, but then came the housing market downturn that led into the Great Recession. Baker pursued a highly sustainable focus for the redevelopment, earning a One Planet Community designation in 2009.
Rohnert Park Mayor Samantha Rodriguez at the ribbon-cutting event Thursday noted how the SOMO Village was part of the city’s recently being named by California as a “prohousing” community.
On Aug. 4, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Rohnert Park, Santa Cruz and South San Francisco had joined the list of now 30 communities with a prohousing designation, including locally Santa Rosa, Windsor, Ukiah and Sonoma County. That makes them eligible for funding incentives and additional resources as a reward for their work to reduce barriers to building more housing.
“They stand in stark contrast to the handful of locals who are failing their constituents and refusing to help California families struggling with runaway housing costs,” Newsom said in that news release.
Logan Pitts, senior field representative for state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, whose 3rd District includes the area, told the event crowd of a couple hundred that Rohnert Park has distinguished itself in home construction.
“Some communities tear themselves apart over building one apartment building, and that’s just not what we’re seeing here in Rohnert Park,” Pitts said. “They’ve taken the time to plan this and to look into the future.”
Pitts said such plans need innovative leaders in the private sector to make them happen.
David Rabbitt, whose 2nd Supervisoral District includes Cotati just west of SOMO Village, said Rohnert Park was thoughtful in developing specific plans for how the city would grow and provide housing for the workforce. He noted the pushback against state laws signed in the past few years that prioritize housing construction.
“We’re losing population in our county and certain parts of the Bay Area, and this will help us recover from that and provide those truly middle-class homes that we need for all of us to be able to stay through our hopefully long, healthy, retirements into the future,” Rabbitt said.
While the housing at SOMO Village has been delayed, the commercial aspect of the development has been steadily progressing. The four buildings of the former HP plant, built in the 1980s and vacated two decades ago, have been progressively revamped as tenants signed leases.
Today, the complex is home to nearly two dozen tenants such as Traditional Medicinals, World Centric, Resynergi, Trevi Systems, Morton & Bassett Spices, Operant Networks and Credo High School, a public Waldorf charter institution. Restaurant Sally Tomatoes anchors the event center, and Old Caz is prepping to open a taproom below the 24,000-square-foot SOMO Cowork center.
Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Reach him at email@example.com or 707-521-4256.
Correction and additions, Sept. 15, 2023: The first homes of phase 1 at SOMO Village will be available early next year, rather than late 2025, when the entire phase is set for completion, a SOMO Living representative clarified Friday. Pricing of the first phase is targeted to be in the $700,000 range, CEO Brad Baker said in a text Friday.