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Rohnert Park to review proposal for 1,400 homes on 269 acres north of SSU

Kevin Fixler, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A homebuilder has embarked upon the initial step to develop a major chunk of agricultural land in northeast Rohnert Park, asking the city to increase by a third the number of units allowed on the mostly vacant property long designated for housing.

The development group led by Pleasanton-based Signature Homes submitted an application to the city last month seeking to bump up the number of homes built on the 269-acre site to more than 1,400 — about 350 more units than envisioned in city’s original plan two decades ago. The property, which sits outside city limits, is one of the last sizable pieces of undeveloped land on the city’s northeastern outskirts. It is north of Sonoma State University and east of Snyder Lane, and bordered on the south by the even larger University District housing development.

On Tuesday, the City Council will review the entire proposal, which Signature Homes estimates would add 3,700 residents to the city of about 43,000 people. The study session will allow council members to weigh in on the density of the proposed development.

Moving forward will require the city to formally annex the property into the city. Rural single-family homes sit on a dozen of the 36 parcels.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9943928-181/rohnert-park-to-review-proposal

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Buyer backs out of multi-million dollar Chanate Road deal with Sonoma County

Tyler Silvy, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The leading bidder for a 72-acre Santa Rosa site slated for affordable housing has pulled out of the process amid worries about prolonged delays from litigious neighbors and the two-step, county-city approval required to build up to 750 units on the former county hospital complex.

California Community Housing Agency, a public entity that taps into the municipal bond market to craft affordable housing projects across the state, told Sonoma County officials Tuesday afternoon it was dropping its bid to buy the Chanate Road property.

The news, confirmed by multiple county officials, comes a month after the agency and its partners were tapped as the leading bidders, with a complex proposal that promised the county a share of the equity in the project, as well as the option to acquire the property and re-sell it 15 years later while cashing in on market-value increases. It would have given the county a $5 million advance on the equity as well.

The developer’s exit delivers another blow to the county’s yearslong attempt to offload the sprawling former health care campus for redevelopment as housing. Both the withdrawn bid and a preceding proposal put forward under a controversial failed sale to a local developer two years ago stood to be the single largest housing project in Santa Rosa in a generation.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9902915-181/buyer-backs-out-of-multi-million

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Developer again delays $400 million downtown Rohnert Park development

Kevin Fixler, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Rohnert Park will have to wait longer on its downtown city center project, but how long is not known.

Officials with Laulima Development, the San Francisco firm that owns the 32-acre former State Farm Insurance property approved in November for a $400 million residential and commercial development dubbed Station Avenue, delivered news of major delays to the City Council on Tuesday night.

The developer blamed continued postponement of the project on rising labor and materials costs — including on lumber and cement — following the North Bay fires, in addition to competitive pressures from the Bay Area’s building boom.

Originally, construction was supposed to start earlier this year, with the 270,000 square feet of retail and office space ready by fall 2020. The 460 rental housing units and a 156-room luxury hotel would follow by spring 2021.

“I’m just very disappointed with where we’re at right now,” said Vice Mayor Joe Callinan, who owns a residential and light commercial construction business. “If we started right now it would be 2022, I bet. We’re not even close to that.”

David Bouquillon, Laulima’s managing partner, said he’d continue to work with the city in the coming weeks to come up with cost-saving measures to build the sprawling development as soon as possible.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9900595-181/developer-again-delays-400-million

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Santa Rosa approves dense ‘pocket neighborhood’ to meet housing goals

Martin Espinoza, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Local real estate developer Robert Upton has a novel housing concept for the north end of Acacia Lane in Rincon Valley, a design he says will bring homeowners together.

Upton, a principal partner of Glen Ellen-based Campus Properties, said the 2.5-acre lot at 746 Acacia Lane is perfect for a “pocket neighborhood,” a planned community of smaller homes that often surround a shared open space.

The estimated $16 million development, called Acacia Village, will consist of 25 detached, owner-owned homes, with three floor plans of about 1,000, 1,600 and 2,000 square feet. Most of the parking will be located on the north and south ends of the development and 19 of the homes will face each other, sharing the common green area.

Upton said the pocket neighborhood concept is popular in the Northwest but uncommon in Santa Rosa.

“It encourages a sense of community and encourages interaction between neighbors,” Upton said. “In a neighborhood like this, people will know more than half their neighbors.”

That’s a much larger share than is found in many suburban developments, he said.

The Acacia Village project was approved by the Planning Commission on June 27. Susie Murray, a Santa Rosa senior planner, said the project is consistent with the general plan and meets the “housing requirements of all Santa Rosa residents.”

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9845227-181/santa-rosa-approves-dense-pocket?sba=AAS

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Sonoma County housing construction fund formed by Silicon Valley trust, Santa Rosa chamber

Gary Quackenbush, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

Link to Strategic Sonoma Action Plan.

To accelerate the development of critically needed housing for workers in Sonoma County, the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber is teaming up with a Silicon Valley nonprofit to create a $10 million housing fund.

The Sonoma County Housing Fund, a partnership between the chamber and Housing Trust Silicon Valley, is designed to raise and leverage local funds to increase the supply of affordable housing in Sonoma County.

The chamber will work to secure and deploy local investments for the fund while Housing Trust Silicon Valley will underwrite, approve and administer loans for housing development. It is modeled on a similar collaboration between the Housing Trust and the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, a group of public, private and civic entities in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties.

Chamber CEO Peter Rumble stated it is reaching out to major employers to invest in the fund, as well as to foundations, private individuals, developers and others.

“If our kids are going to have a good education, we need to make sure our teachers can afford to live here,” said Rumble. “If our technology companies are going to thrive, we need to be able to recruit engineers. If we are going to be able to care for our aging population, our hospitals need to keep nurses and doctors living here. If our tourism industry is going to continue to be the envy of the world, we need to make sure there is a thriving workforce in our community. All of this comes back to creating housing throughout Sonoma County, and while the Sonoma County Housing Trust isn’t the single solution, it is an important step forward.”

The chamber will be responsible for endorsing projects for funding the Sonoma County trust, in consultation with the Employer Housing Council, composed of the 15 largest employers and educational institutions in the North Bay along with the North Coast Builders Exchange. Rumble is also co-chairman of the housing council along with Keith Woods, CEO of the builders exchange.

Under a memorandum of understanding it signed with the chamber in June, the role of Housing Trust Silicon Valley is to underwrite, approve and administer loans for infill projects in urban and priority development areas. To encourage local investment and spur more affordable projects, Housing Trust Silicon Valley will provide approximately $2 of matching money for every $1 dollar raised by the chamber for the fund.

Read more at https://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/northbay/sonomacounty/9804595-181/housing-silicon-valley-santa-rosa-sonoma?ref=related

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Santa Rosa requires 200-plus home development in Roseland to improve circulation plan

Will Schmitt, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A development calling for more than 200 new homes in southwest Santa Rosa is headed back to the drawing board.

The City Council voted 6-0 on Tuesday night to send the proposed Dutton Meadows subdivision back to the Planning Commission, which voted against the project in February.

City staff took the rare stance of opposing the housing project, based on concerns about how the developer, San Ramon-based Trumark Homes, planned to build nearby roads in conflict with the city’s vision for the area.

The council’s move gives city staff and Trumark more time to negotiate the layout of future roads connecting the project’s 130 two-story homes and 81 secondary units to the rest of the city. It also allows Santa Rosa’s elected officials to avoid shooting down a large housing project, which the city has generally welcomed with open arms as it seeks to create new places to live and rebuild from the October 2017 fires, which destroyed roughly 3,000 homes in the city.

City planners didn’t object to the new housing — located on about 18.5 acres near the intersection of Hearn Avenue and Dutton Meadow — but to Trumark’s plans for building out local roads significantly different from older city plans envisioned for the greater Roseland area. Trumark’s position, which did not budge Tuesday, is that Santa Rosa’s preferred street alignment removes the potential for 52 homes, which prevents the project from penciling out.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9765683-181/santa-rosa-sends-200-plus-home?sba=AAS

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Windsor approves $100 million apartment complex featuring advanced energy efficiency

Alexandria Bordas, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

After five years of planning, Windsor officials have approved construction of an apartment complex that will be the town’s most eco-friendly housing community.

Called The Mill, it will include 360 apartments built over the next two years with all electric mechanicals such as heat pumps for water and cooling and appliances powered by solar panels installed throughout the 20-acre property. Also, residents will have electric vehicle charging stations and the ability to store excess solar energy, among other amenities. There will be no gas lines anywhere in the apartment community.

Town leaders touted the $100 million housing development as being zero-net energy, meaning energy used by apartment tenants on an annual basis will be renewable and generated on-site. It is believed to be the largest apartment project with such aggressive energy efficiency set for construction in Sonoma County, said Peter Stanley, a project manager with ArchiLOGIX, a Santa Rosa design and consulting firm.

Stanley is working with Bob Bisno, a Southern California developer that recently got the go-ahead from Windsor Town Council to build the housing project on the south end of Windsor River Road.

It will be walking distance from the planned Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit station.

The development represents another key piece of the town’s leaders renewable energy agenda to contend with climate change. Last month, Windsor officials said the town will use solar energy to power its water facilities, by teaming with a French company that’s installing floating solar panels this summer across a large pond on the town’s public works property.

The town council approved The Mill in hopes Windsor will get ahead of a California state law that will require all building permits issued for most new homes and multifamily residences after Jan. 1, 2020 to include rooftop solar panels. Also, state officials last year announced a goal of having all new commercial construction achieving zero net energy by 2030.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9780974-181/windsor-approves-100-million-apartment

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Two proposed apartment complexes could bring 424 units to southeast Santa Rosa

Martin Espinosa, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa planning officials are reviewing two housing projects that would bring a total of 424 apartments to the southeast side of the city, just south of the Santa Rosa Marketplace shopping center.

The projects, less than a block from each other, would further city efforts to build more housing along or near Santa Rosa Avenue, a key transit and commercial corridor.

One of the projects calls for 252 multifamily apartment units on more than 8 acres at 325 Yolanda Ave., just south of the Carriage Court mobile home park. The complex would consist of 11 three-story buildings and four two-story buildings, and would include an 8,000-square-foot clubhouse with a leasing office, fitness center, pool and spa.

That project, named Yolanda Apartments, is located within one of the city’s Priority Development Areas, defined by the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission as areas for future infill population and employment growth near transportation services.

“It provides a lot of housing near public transit,” said Susie Murray, a Santa Rosa senior planner.

According to public review documents, the complex would offer 18 studio, 115 one-bedroom, 98 two-bedroom and 21 three-bedroom apartments. A total of 69 apartments would have “tuck under” garages.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9766090-181/two-proposed-apartment-complexes-could

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Santa Rosa approves long-awaited Roseland housing and retail project

Will Schmitt, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The council discussion took a turn when Councilwomen Julie Combs and Victoria Fleming raised questions about whether separating the market- rate and affordable apartments would amount to housing segregation on the basis of income. Fleming voiced concerns about disadvantaged outcomes for people who have grown up in segregated areas, such as Oakland and her native San Leandro. Combs recalled how whites and people of color used to have to use different water fountains under the guise of equality.

A development promising to transform a largely vacant commercial plot in Roseland into affordable apartments, retail shops and library space cleared a crucial hurdle Tuesday night, securing unanimous approval from the City Council.

A hearing on the Roseland Village Neighborhood Center, more than a decade in the making, ran more than three hours before the council advanced plans for the roughly 7.5-acre Sebastopol Road site, owned by the Sonoma County Community Development Commission. The site currently includes a Dollar Tree, the temporary Roseland library branch, and a large parking lot.

Council members favored the promise of new housing — up to 175 apartments — and potential economic benefits for the greater Roseland area over objections from a nearby landlord and some council members’ concerns that developers plan to build market-rate and affordable units in separate buildings and on different schedules.

“This is what we have been waiting for, in my opinion,” said Councilman John Sawyer, who was first elected in 2004. “I believe that ‘perfect project’ is an oxymoron. Roseland deserves it. Santa Rosa deserves it.”

The Community Development Commission, which bought the property nearly a decade ago, now is clear to sell part of the site to UrbanMix Development, a San Francisco real estate company that plans to round up an estimated $30 million in private financing to build 100 market-rate apartments on the eastern half of the site. On the western side, Foster City-based nonprofit developer MidPen Housing Corp. plans to apply for state and federal funds to come up with roughly $35 million for 75 more apartments restricted to low-income tenants.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9739332-181/santa-rosa-approves-long-awaited-roseland

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BoDean asphalt plant moving to Windsor, with aim to convert Santa Rosa site to housing

Will Schmidt, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The owners of a prominent asphalt plant in central Santa Rosa are planning to move their business to Windsor, laying the groundwork for affordable housing to replace an industrial operation that the owners acknowledge no longer fits into a neighborhood the city has targeted for dense residential development.

BoDean Co. founders Dean and Belinda “Bo” Soiland said their new, larger site in Windsor is better suited for continued industrial use than the current site south of West College Avenue, where the city has taken a stronger regulatory stance in recent years as complaints have mounted from neighbors.

Paperwork to build the new plant will be submitted to Windsor officials in July, Dean Soiland said. The Soilands had not finalized plans for their Santa Rosa property, though planning work there could proceed on a parallel track to development of the new Windsor plant.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9658672-181/bodean-asphalt-plant-moving-to