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Developer expands proposal for Rohnert Park downtown district at former State Farm campus

Kevin Fixler, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Plans for RP development

The developer pitching an extensive redevelopment project in central Rohnert Park is seeking to both expand and accelerate its aspirations to create a vibrant downtown hub along the city’s commuter rail station.

Station Avenue, formerly called Rohnert Station, envisions a mixed-use development that would include homes, offices, retail shops and a hotel on a 32-acre campus just south of Rohnert Park Expressway. The sprawling, 320,000-square-foot facility was previously occupied by State Farm Insurance but has sat vacant since the company left in 2011.

Laulima Development, the San Francisco-based developer who bought it for $13.5 million last December, intends to submit its final development application to the city in the coming weeks.

It seeks to increase the combined amount of office and retail space to 250,000 square feet — a more than 40 percent expansion from an initial proposal — at least partly in response to high levels of interest from prospective tenants.

“For us, if we really want to create a meaningful downtown — that sense of place — we need that critical mass,” said David Bouquillon, managing partner of Laulima. “Early on, it was light. We’re always try to balance for that perfect ratio.”

The new downtown district, located next to the city’s existing SMART train commuter platform, also would include 415 units of market-rate housing spread across 150 for-sale homes and the remaining number in above-office rental lofts and apartments. While that total is unchanged from the earlier plans, the new layout also makes room for a new 156-room hotel to be built by a partner developer.

“We’ve been getting a lot of demands for hotels, and it piqued our interest,” Bouquillon said. “We found a way to make it work and it adds to the urban downtown, so we put that in the application.”

As part of the announcement last week, the company unveiled a new website with design renderings, a site plan, as well as a countdown to completion.

Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8413938-181/developer-expands-proposal-for-rohnert

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Yes In My Backyard, says Bay Area housing advocate

Richard Scheinin, BAY AREA NEWS GROUP

Brian Hanlon used to work for environmental agencies and regards himself as a political progressive. Then several years ago, he began to feel the crunch of the Bay Area housing crisis. Why was everything so insanely expensive? And what was with all these zoning laws that were preventing new houses from being built?
Hanlon switched careers and became a full-time housing advocate, one who says, “Yes In My Backyard,” to affordable housing as well as to luxury housing, condos and mixed-use projects near transit hubs. That motto is now the rallying cry for the region’s growing YIMBY movement, of which he is a leader. YIMBYs say the region must get its head out of the sand and expand its meager housing supply. How else will it ever reduce the competition for homes that keeps driving prices up – and pricing so many people out of their own communities?
“I’m someone who supports whichever housing policies are going to benefit people who need housing the most,” says Hanlon, who concedes that being a YIMBY can make for unpredictable bedfellows – for instance supporting developers while opposing aging and otherwise left-leaning NIMBY homeowners who block any new housing in their neighborhoods.He is policy director of the San Francisco YIMBY Party and co-executive director of the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CaRLA), which has targeted local governments that block residential development. And, oh, yes – he and his girlfriend pay $2,000 a month for a “tiny” one-bedroom apartment in an old building in downtown Oakland.
This interview (keep reading) was edited for clarity and length.
Read more at: Bay Area housing crisis won’t end without a big buildout