J.D. Morris, THE NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL
Sonoma County has approved a deal to sell an 82-acre former county hospital site where a developer plans to build 800 rental units, housing for veterans, a grocery store, an amphitheater and other amenities.
County leaders have touted the sale to Bill Gallaher, a politically connected Santa Rosa developer, as a clear-sighted move to meet an urgent regional need — expanding the housing supply, especially for renters, who’ve seen rates skyrocket in recent years.
The deal was approved 5-0 by Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday.
The health care complex is centered around the former Community Hospital, built in 1936 and vacated in 2014 after Sutter Health moved into its new hospital off Mark West Road. The aging building did not meet current seismic building standards and racked up costly maintenance bills, according to the county. Much of it is slated for demolition under Gallaher’s proposal.
Though a sale of the property was first raised as a possibility more than a decade ago, the deal approved Tuesday has faced strong criticism from neighbors, health care advocates and others since it was first unveiled as a proposal in February. Opponents raised concerns about the loss of health care services on the site and the future of open lands on the property.
But proponents, including Gallaher’s representative, have emphasized all along that the details of the project will ultimately be Santa Rosa’s permit and planning process is complete, and officials expect that period to last about 18 months.