Rohnert Park City Council Tuesday unanimously approved a $400 million redevelopment plan to bulld a downtown, finally offering residents in Sonoma County’s third-largest city a long-desired central public square.
The city’s agreement with San Francisco’s Laulima Development includes 460 apartments, a five-story luxury hotel and 270,000 square feet of space for restaurants, boutique shops and business offices on a 32-acre site formerly occupied by State Farm Insurance.
The site, just south of Rohnert Park Expressway, has been vacant since 2011. Laulima snapped up the property for $13.5 million late last year with plans to build a sprawling city center that incorporates the nearby Sonoma-Marin Rail Transit platform.
“This is something that I believe that is truly visionary,” Council member Jake Mackenzie said. “It meets the concepts of sustainability, it meets the concepts of where we want to be in terms of energy efficiencies and connection to transportation systems, bike paths, walking, all of these things. I think this shows that the vision is capable of being realized.”
Laulima has previously built other urban projects throughout the Bay Area, including Santana Row in San Jose and Bay Street in Emeryville. David Bouquillon, the company’s managing partner, said he looked forward to delivering on residents’ decadeslong desire for a central hub.
“The downtown for Rohnert Park vision started well before we ever met — walkability, distinctive, mixed-use, active,” Bouquillon said. “Those are the community’s words. We agree with them 110 percent. We’re so committed to seeing this vision happen.”
As many as 150 residents from the city and throughout Sonoma County packed City Hall chambers Tuesday night to learn about the ambitious redevelopment project dubbed Station Avenue. Members of the public spoke for 25 minutes, including more than a dozen tradesmen representing local unions supporting the project while requesting the construction work.
Rohnert Park resident Lisa Orloff, director of Rohnert Park’s Chamber of Commerce, said the downtown will finally make the city a countywide destination.
“I think it’s amazing,” she said. “The residents have spoken. I think this really makes Rohnert Park a destination place to Sonoma County.”
City staff presented the council with estimates of at least $730,000 of annual revenue per year from the project. That projection includes more than $450,000 in sales tax revenues, $160,000 in property taxes from the 460 apartments and $125,000 in annual taxes from visitors to the hotel.
“The bottom line, this is going to have a big financial benefit to the city,” city planning manager Jeff Beiswenger said.
As part of the Station Avenue project, Laulima has agreed to requirements, including building a 1-acre park with a dog park and playground area for children. In addition, the developer will contribute another $700,000 in parks improvements and another $880,000 in fees for future park and public space.
Laulima will pay the city another $300,000 to buy a small corner of the city’s corporate yard to fit all of the apartments. Rental residences will be laid out in a single 300-unit complex as well as eight other 20-unit buildings and lofts.
Of the 460 housing apartments in the development, 15 will be designated as affordable and kept at no more than the 120 percent of the area’s median income level. That’s considered affordable for households of two earning about $80,000 a year, and $100,000 for families of four.
This story originally appeared on PressDemocrat.com.