Cornerstone Properties donates Sonoma County commercial space to nonprofits

Cornerstone is a commercial real estate owner and developer with more than 25 North Bay properties, including the building at 427 Mendocino Ave. that houses the Press Democrat and the North Bay Business Journal.

As plans moved forward to remodel and lease the mostly vacant first floor of this building for retail and office space, an opportunity arose to temporarily repurpose this level to serve as a local assistance center (LAC) during October's firestorm.

'Cornerstone's mission to support local, sustainable activities and bring more business to the North Bay was witnessed immediately after the fires began,' said Pauline Block, Cornerstone's marketing manager.

'We have contacts with the county and city and learned that a conveniently located, ground floor space downtown was urgently needed and offered our support.'

The company donated this space to serve as an information and assistance hub where fire victims could meet with representatives from 43 county, city, state and federal agencies ranging from FEMA, SBA, USDA, Social Security, permitting agencies, DMV and Human Services, to utility firms, veteran's affairs and Consulate of Mexico officials. Others from 17 nonprofit organizations and service providers (such as EDD, legal aid, Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, NCBE and Children Disaster Services) were also on hand to offer counsel and support in the same room.'

According to Deputy Sonoma County Administrator Michael Grossman, the person responsible for setting up the Santa Rosa LAC, more than 12,000 people came to the center from October 2017 through February 2018 seeking help.

During the first two weeks, the Cornerstone team worked around-the-clock to ensure that three free meals a day were ready for individuals and families utilizing the center's services.

The firm also donated 50,000 square feet of warehouse space to the Red Cross at the Todd Road Industrial Park.

Last December, Cornerstone donated 20,000 square feet at the Airport Industrial Park for the Volunteer Center's Secret Santa program and another combined 20,000 square feet was donated for other nonprofits, including Mentor Me, North Bay Fire Relief and Sonoma Family Meal.

Keysight Technologies' employees displaced during the fire partly took shelter at 180 Studios, an nonprofit maker space at Cornerstone's Todd Road Industrial Park. Other temporary offices for Keysight are in Rohnert Park and Petaluma.

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