$400M redevelopment of Rohnert Park State Farm property could bring thousands of jobs, study says
The Rohnert Park SMART station may soon get a $398 million front door, bringing hundreds of new apartments, thousands of added jobs and hundreds of millions in additional economic activity to what is planned to be the first downtown district for Sonoma County’s third-largest city, according to a new study.
That’s the projection for the planned redevelopment of the 32-acre site with a 320,000-square-foot former State Farm Insurance building into the North Bay’s first sizable transit-oriented development. Property owner Laulima Development on Tuesday released an economic-impact report by Robert Eyler, Ph.D., of Economic Forensics & Analytics ahead of the Thursday meeting of the city Planning Commission where the 6400 State Farm Drive project, called Station Avenue, will be consider what recommendations to make to the City Council.
Depending on when approvals and permits are secured, the State Farm building could be demolished by year-end, with construction starting early next year. The goal is to finish by fall 2020 the central square surrounded by three-, four and five-story buildings with 130,000 square feet of offices, 140,000 square feet of shops and 460 rentals homes, including apartments, lofts and row houses. The 156-room hotel would be built thereafter.
The number of proposed housing units is up from 415 proposed in early summer, when 150 for-sale dwellings were in the mix. Now, the units would be all rentals would increase the city’s stock of multifamily housing by 10 percent, according to the study.
Generated during construction would be $536 million in economic activity and 3,390 temporary jobs for construction companies and local businesses, per Eyler’s estimates.
Once finished, the Station Avenue development is estimated to generate $169.5 million in annual economic activity in and around the property, 1,982 jobs with $75.8 million in a year in wages, and $11.1 million in taxes and fees, with nearly $875,000 of that going to the city, the study said.
Well-done TOD doesn’t just build housing at or near transit stations but creates “employment clusters” there, so residents don’t have to travel far to get to work, according to David Bouquillon, president of Laulima.
“The link between employment and transit has not been as much part of the discussion in the North Bay,” he said. “Station Avenue has prioritized employment uses in the development.”
Laulima purchased the property last December for $13.5 million and formerly called the project Rohnert Station.
San Francisco-based Laulima (www.laulima-dev.com) purchased the property last December for $13.5 million and formerly called the project Rohnert Station. The building has been vacant since State Farm relocated 450 employees from there in 2011.
Jeff Quackenbush covers real estate, construction and wine. Reach him at email@example.com or 707-521-4256.
This story was updated with comments from David Bouquillon of Laulima Development.