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Old October 26th, 2006, 04:13 PM   #1
Wizewun
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Santa Rosa [Sonoma County] Development News

Downtown Santa Rosa project faces key review today

By MIKE McCOY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Thursday, October 26, 2006


A project envisioned as Sonoma County's tallest building faces a key test today at Santa Rosa City Hall.


The city Planning Commission will review the Comstock, a 14-story, 150-foot tall condominium, parking and retail complex proposed in the heart of the city. At issue is whether the city should amend its general plan, which allows 150-foot buildings but limits them to 10 floors.

Mike Marovich of Novato-based West Bay Builders said his company hopes to build 116 condos atop several floors of residential parking and 8,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

The Comstock would replace the Roxy on the Square movie complex on Third Street and would dominate the city skyline. It would rise above the 14-story, 130-foot Bethlehem Towers, a Tupper Street senior apartment complex built on the edge of the downtown in 1970.

And it would surpass two buildings being touted as the first downtown high-rises - the proposed White House and The Rises projects - multi-use projects that recently won city support to reach heights of 12 stories and 120 feet.

Whether the Comstock actually would be the tallest building in the county is not absolutely certain.

"I'm sure it would be, except for maybe a grain elevator somewhere," said city planner Joel Galbraith.

The project has been in the planning stages since the 0.6-acre, six-plex theater site was bought for $1.9 million by West Bay in June 2005.

If the four additional floors are approved, the Comstock will be the third high-rise in three weeks to be granted approval to exceed the city's 10-story limit.

The City Council recently allowed Monahan Pacific of San Rafael to exceed the limit by two stories on its two projects, located one block farther east on Third Street from the Comstock project.

Those two mixed-use projects - the White House and the Rises - call for construction of 183 and 96 condos, respectively. The units would be priced at $500,000-plus, a Monahan spokesman said.

The developers said they hope to begin construction on the White House and the Comstock next year.

City Councilwoman Janet Condron said hundreds of high-rise residential units will be a welcome addition to a downtown that has been struggling for years.

"We've made it pretty clear we are looking for a mixed-use downtown, and we have arrived at the point that people want to live there. We want more life, a 24-hour presence, downtown," she said of the council's goal.

Marovich acknowledged downtown Santa Rosa is an untested market for high-rise living, but he's confident the need is there.

"The way you create a vital downtown core is you activate it with residential housing opportunities," he said.

Monahan's two projects and West Bay's building would add 395 condos to the downtown, generating hundreds of new customers for retail services.

"People could live, work and play in the downtown by just stepping out their front door," Marovich said.

Marovich said he is in a race with Monahan Pacific to see who can get to the market first.

"There is a real advantage of having a couple of mid-rise housing opportunities for people in Santa Rosa to choose from," he said.

Monahan Pacific plans to begin construction on its $90 million White House, which includes a 545-space public parking garage for which the city will pay $14.7 million, by next summer.

Marovich said his company's condos will average 1,400- square-feet in size and be priced comparably to those Monahan Pacific plans to build.

Galbraith said if the commission approves the additional stories, the council must take similar action.

Marovich expects to have the Comstock project through the city's planning and design process within eight weeks.

You can reach Staff Writer Mike McCoy at 521-5276 or mmccoy@pressdemocrat.com.

The Comstock
13-15 floors
150'


Newest Render



Other images















The White House and The Risesw

12 Stories each and 120'

images coming soon



SR council OKs 12-story high-rise
Downtown development will include 279 condos, retail space, parking

By MIKE MCCOY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT



The Santa Rosa City Council agreed Tuesday to allow two proposed downtown high-rises to be two stories taller, saying downtown's fortunes will be boosted as well.



See story below
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The council granted a request by Monahan Pacific, a San Rafael development company, to build 12 stories rather than the 10 allowed by the city's general plan.

The extra floors will allow the company to increase the number of condominiums in the buildings, which will also have parking and retail space.

The developer said the extra units are critical to making the multi-use projects financially feasible.

The developments include the White House project, named for a department store that once was on the site. It combines a city-owned parking garage with 183 condominiums and retail space.

The other building is called the Rises and will include 96 condominiums, private parking and some retail space.

The two buildings will be side-by-side, sandwiched between Second and Third streets and between D and E streets.

Councilman Bob Blanchard said the White House project in particular will help fulfill a longtime dream of the council by providing a larger downtown population.

"It will fix the deadness of the downtown after 5 p.m.," he said. "People will be living there 24/7."

But Jack Osborne, a Santa Rosa resident, and others said the 120-foot-tall White House building would overwhelm its smaller neighbors.

"It's a big monstrous building," he said. "It's seven stories higher than anything else around it."

The additional stories were approved on a 4-1 vote with Councilman Mike Martini opposed.

Both projects must go before the city Design Review Board for architectural and design approval before they can be built.

Construction on the White House project is expected to begin next summer.



High-rise hopes in SR

By Mike McCoy
The Press Democrat
Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Developers of a proposed high-rise touted as the centerpiece of Santa Rosa's effort to revitalize its downtown say they plan to proceed next summer despite the downturn in the housing market.


"That's our current schedule," said Victor Gonzalez, development director for Monahan Pacific, a San Rafael development company partnering with the city to build the $90million, 120-foot-tall parking garage, condominium and retail project.

Monahan Pacific has only a

couple of hurdles left before construction can begin on the "White House" project, city senior planner Joel Galbraith said.

The first, securing permission to build 12 stories rather than the 10 allowed by the city's General Plan, is expected to be a City Council formality today.

The final requirement will be approval by the Design Review Board of the building design and architecture. "After that, they could be under way," Galbraith said.

The proposal - a 545-space, city-owned parking garage, 183 residential condominiums, 208 private parking spaces for condominium residents and 15,000 square feet of retail space - had been the subject of sometimes contentious negotiation between Monahan Pacific and the city over the past two years.

Those negotiations led to the city's contractual agreement to allow Monahan Pacific to add two extra levels to squeeze in additional condominiums that company president Tom Monahan said would be critical to making the project financially successful.

Concerns about the economic feasibility were raised in recent months as the county's housing market weakened.

The median home price in Sonoma County has dropped 7.7 percent in the past year and most experts are predicting further declines. The median selling price in September was $567,500.

Gonzalez said the White House condominiums are expected to be priced "at more than $500,000 plus."

Cheryl Woodward, the city's deputy transit and parking director, said Monahan Pacific has given no indications it will hold off on construction until the housing market rights itself, possibly because they are appealing to a different segment of the market.

"They are targeting young urban professionals who are not necessarily interested in a yard, and at the other end of the Bell curve, people whose kids have moved on and who are more interested in traveling than maintaining a place," she said.

Construction on the garage will take 14 months to complete, followed by an 18-month time schedule to build the condominiums, Woodward said.

That means the earliest the condos would be ready for occupancy would be 2009 or 2010.

The site is a 1.3-acre parcel between Second and Third streets that once housed the White House department store. The store was demolished in 1991 and replaced with a 116-space, city-owned parking lot.

Monahan Pacific also is pushing ahead to build an adjoining 12-story, 96-unit condominium project next door, fronting with its front on D Street, called the Rises. It will include 96 parking spaces and 15,000-square feet of retail.

Today, the council also is expected to grant permission for 12 stories at that site, too.

Gonzalez said construction on the Rises will follow completion of the White House project.

"But if sales are going terrifically, they could both be under construction at the same time," he said.


The Moore Building

4 Stories, 50'


7/2006
The Moore Building is under construction at 10th and Healdsburg Avenues in Santa Rosa, CA. This mixed-use project consists of 9,889 square feet of retail space and 78 apartment units on 1.04 acres.



DOWNTOWN MIXED-USE PROJECT GETS GREEN
LIGHT


Published on September 4, 2002
© 2002- The Press Democrat


BYLINE: PAUL PAYNE


THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
PAGE: B1


Santa Rosa City Council members on Tuesday backed construction of a four-story apartment and retail building in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods, and promised to take steps to ease lingering traffic and parking concerns.


By a 6-0 vote, the council tentatively approved the proposed Moore building on Healdsburg Avenue, at the edge of the historic St. Rose district. Councilwoman Noreen Evans abstained.
The council will take a final vote in three weeks on the $10 million building, which will have 80 apartments and retail shops.


``We were able to hammer out the remaining concerns of neighbors,'' Mayor Mike Martini said. ``It's going to be an excellent project for the city.''

At least a dozen residents spoke to the council Tuesday.

Many said they worried the building would bring heavy traffic, crowd parking and steal the charm from a neighborhood with classic bungalows and the 1860 St. Rose Catholic Church.

They commended the developer for recent architectural changes that make the building fit better, and for removing plans for a B Street entry to the parking garage.

But they asked for a traffic barricade on 10th Street to divert cars to major thoroughfares.

They also said the city should consider a residential parking permit for the neighborhood, where spaces already are in short supply because of nearby businesses.

The council agreed to do it.

``It would be a good idea,'' said Gene Benton, the city's traffic engineer.

Mostly, however, neighbors were pleased with a project officials say has evolved into a model for preventing urban sprawl.

``It is everything we have envisioned should be going on downtown,'' said Kevin Konicek, a B Street resident. ``It's mixed-use ... and it will save the hillsides.''

If the project is approved, construction would begin next spring and the building would open in 2004, architect Henry Wix said.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 521-5250 or ppayne@pressdemocrat.com. MAP: by The Press Democrat: Proposed mixed-use project
Keywords: DEVELOPMENT DOWNTOWN TRAFFIC NEIGHBORHOOD



You can reach Staff Writer Mike McCoy at 521-5276 or mmccoy@pressdemocrat.com.


The Moore Building







Construction photos from July 20, 2006



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Old October 30th, 2006, 01:18 AM   #2
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Downtown Santa Rosa's growing up
Planned high-rise buildings may transform more than the skyline

By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT


12 story White House Project





The skyline - and identity - of Santa Rosa is on the brink of a transformation brought by three high-rise buildings that promise big-city living in the heart of Sonoma County's hub city.



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The 14-story, 150-foot-high condominium project approved by planners last week will give Santa Rosa the highest downtown building between San Francisco and Portland.

With the go-ahead already given to two 12-story buildings, Santa Rosa is shedding vestiges of its rural past and charting a future in which the city increasingly builds up rather than out.

"Santa Rosa is no longer a small town. We are growing up," said City Councilwoman Janet Condron.

The three buildings, which would stretch for two blocks along the spine of Third Street, combine a total of 395 condominiums on the upper floors with parking, shops and restaurants below.

Advocates say the towers would invigorate downtown with new residents and more places to go, but critics say they are oversized and that developers are overly optimistic.

"They will really jump-start the downtown to a new level of vitality," Mayor Jane Bender said.

"It's good to have a downtown that is 24/7, lively all the time. And you get that when people are living down there instead of having offices with people who leave at 5 o'clock, go home and it's deader than a doornail," said Dick Carlile, president of the board of Santa Rosa Main Street, which promotes business and economic development.

But there are questions about whether there are enough buyers and what the city will look like.

Some planners, such as Santa Rosa's Laura Hall of Fisher & Hall Urban Design, wonder if people will snap up the residential units in the 12- and 14-story buildings.

"People are flocking downtown. I don't know if it's to high rises," she said.

She doesn't like the height and scale of the buildings and suggests Santa Rosa would be better off with a six-story limit.

"I tend to think high rises are a bit inhumane," said Hall. "It's great to have more people living downtown. I love all that. But we could be an awesome six-story town - like Paris."

Bill Mastick, a member of the city's Design Review Board, which endorsed the buildings, noted there is a wide range of opinion.

"It's like looking at a painting on the wall. Some love them, some don't," he said. "Some people think these are huge monstrosities. Some are enthused."

For city officials, it's the culmination of a process set in motion by voter-approved urban growth boundaries and a revised general plan in which citizens called for infill, compact development and taller structures.

To accommodate the buildings, the city is granting exemptions to the 10-story height limit in the general plan.

Market demand in doubt
City officials and business leaders acknowledge some uncertainty about how strong the market is for the $500,000 condominiums developers are planning in the buildings.

The city-centered lifestyle is one that appeals to young professionals and older "empty nesters" who don't want the upkeep of a large house and yard. The common factor is not having children in the household.

A $50,000 study commissioned by the city and released in December found Santa Rosa could absorb 50 to 100 units a year of new downtown housing.

The number of units planned for the three buildings is 395 total. But with other downtown projects recently built or in the pipeline, the number on the horizon is about 600 units downtown.

"There's always a question mark in terms of any new development opportunity and how the market responds," said Mike Marovich of Novato-based West Bay Builders, developers of the 150-foot-high Comstock project. "That being said, I think all the pieces will be put into place to create a very inviting housing opportunity for people who prefer more urbanized, higher-density living."

The project was approved Thursday by the Planning Commission and still requires final approval by the City Council.

Marovich noted that plans are moving forward to reunite Old Courthouse Square to provide more of a central gathering spot, or plaza, and there are discussions of building a performing arts center downtown on the City Hall site and constructing a new City Hall across the street.

"I can't tell you the number of people who have said to us they are interested in the opportunity to live in a high-quality, downtown residence and take advantage of shopping, dining, entertainment, transportation," Marovich said.



Looking skyward
City officials are convinced that to make it all work, buildings need to shoot up. They say it is not financially feasible for developers to mix retail, parking and residential without building the taller structures.

Business boosters say the housing the buildings will bring is critical to keeping a downtown energized and economically viable.

"When I look at some other communities approximately our size, the revitalization of the downtowns have been spurred by two things - some form of magnet entity in the downtown, or a proliferation of housing," said Mike Hauser, head of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce. "It's clearly a big part of the equation that will keep downtown vital."

Santa Rosa officials see the high rises as the culmination of the growth of a city that is home to 157,000 people and has reinvented itself along the way.

Beginning with the construction of Highway 101 in the late 1940s, which split the downtown, Santa Rosa has been reshaped by demolition of the landmark downtown courthouse in 1966, the earthquake of 1969 and subsequent urban renewal.

Damaged historic buildings were leveled to make way for the Santa Rosa Plaza mall.

"There's an inherent fear of change," Planning Commission Chairman Bartley said of the negative reactions he's heard to Santa Rosa's newest makeover.

Sitting in a brew pub next to where one 150-foot-high building is planned, Internet entrepreneur Terri Hammon had objections to the tall buildings.

He and his fiancee, Lisa Burquist, a social worker, said the city could use more affordable housing, not $500,000 condos.

"Is it really going to keep the city from sprawling out?" said Hammon. "Where will they be working? There will be too much traffic in one area. The streets can't handle it."



Missing the old look
Some longtime Santa Rosa residents who saw renditions of the tall buildings for the first time last week weren't happy with the coming change.

"Santa Rosa was a real nice town when I moved here in 1954," said Doris Graser, who worked downtown at the old Bank of California beginning in 1962. "It's getting too big."

She and two friends were on their way to dinner Thursday evening and walked by the Third Street movie theaters where the 14-story Comstock is planned.

"I miss Santa Rosa the way it used to be," said her friend, Dorothy Mercer, 67, a native-born Santa Rosan who also disapproved of the high rise.

"They've already changed everything. This will really make it a large city," agreed Arlene Gagliardi of Santa Rosa.

Bernie Schwartz, owner of California Luggage on Fourth Street, said the influx of new residents should give the downtown a new vibrancy, although there are questions about how quickly it will happen.

"A lot of people are wondering, 'Where are these young professionals?' " he said of a target market for the condominiums. "But all of us who work downtown want to to see this happen. I don't think anyone disagrees mixed use is part of city-centered growth and smart growth is the way to go."
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Old October 30th, 2006, 08:28 PM   #3
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Yay! It's about time for highrise development in downtown Santa Rosa! It's been dead for years when I lived there. There's pretty bad sprawl in Santa Rosa area already so they need to stop eating up the farms and rural areas already!
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Old December 4th, 2006, 03:13 PM   #4
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Council to weigh acquiring 2 buildings through eminent domain for eventual high-rise
By MIKE MCCOY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT



A plan to build a new high-rise City Hall in Santa Rosa may be gaining momentum.

The new building is linked to a proposal to build a new performing arts center on the 6-acre First Street site occupied by City Hall since 1969.

Construction is said to be at least 10 years off but the City Council will be asked Tuesday to authorize the use of eminent domain to acquire two buildings on the opposite side of First Street that could be razed for a new City Hall.

The vote comes just seven months after city officials first suggested replacing its split-level, concrete office complex with a $50million, 10-story high-rise.

Santa Rosa officials said the two buildings - one housing the Chamber of Commerce, the other a mostly vacant former bank - would provide space to consolidate many of the 1,300 city employees now scattered around town.

Despite the request to use eminent domain, city officials said they are nearing a deal with developer Clem Carinalli and his children, among the primary owners of the Chamber Plaza office building.

"We're expecting to negotiate a friendly, unlitigated resolution to this," said Josh Maresca, the city's right-of-way agent.

However, he said, in some cases property owners will ask that eminent domain proceedings be undertaken because it can provide them with some reinvestment tax advantages.

Carinalli said he and his children have agreed to the deal, although some specifics still must be worked out.

Maresca said he expects to begin negotiations this week with James Ratto, the owner of North Bay Corp., the city's garbage-hauling company, who owns the adjacent Westamerica Bank building.

Maresca said appraisals of the two buildings place the value of the bank property at $3million and the chamber building at $2.7million.

While he declined to say how much the city is offering, he said it's more than the appraisal estimates.

Despite the pending deals, City Manager Jeff Kolin said a new City Hall is still 10 to 15 years off. Acquiring the two buildings now would fulfill a short-term need for space, he said.

A 2002 study indicated the city needed an additional 50,000 square feet to house its work force, a need that has only become greater.

"We are crammed into our existing spaces," said Mayor Jane Bender, who noted those spaces are spread around town.

"The idea with this deal is to get more office space and consolidate downtown," she said.

Maresca, however, said the city does not intend to force current tenants to move out before their leases expire. The chamber's lease runs through 2011.

Some portions of both buildings currently are vacant.

"It makes more sense to use the money to buy properties than spend it on leases," Maresca said.

There has been considerable talk this year of eventually turning the existing City Hall property into a performing arts complex that would include a relocated Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.

The council recently voted to create a downtown arts district with an eye toward attracting art shows, theatrical performances and concerts.

One official said moving the Wells Fargo Center might allow the city to shut down First Street and use a portion of it for the new City Hall.

The block-long street currently separates City Hall from the City Hall Annex and the two properties the city is seeking to acquire.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 11:20 PM   #5
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^ yea, i read that article. they shouls just tear out 1st street there, nobody uses it anyway.

boy, im glad to see that a santa rosa forum is up! now, if we can only get one of those "high-rises" built without more delays (or deaths) then we'll be well on our way to a better dt.
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Old December 5th, 2006, 06:35 PM   #6
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I agree, we need to make the developers eat healthy, no quick trips to McD's for lunch
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Old December 6th, 2006, 08:20 PM   #7
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does anybody know (if anybody is here to see my question, perhaps u, Wizewun) how cars would access the comstock building? would space be set aside in that garage by 2nd street? it is hard to tell from the renderings
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Old December 7th, 2006, 06:01 PM   #8
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I was wondering that myself. There was so much fuss and publicity over the parking situation at the White House project, that I think the Comstock just kind of slid in under the radar. The way I see it, unless plans for the Comstock include some manor of underground parking which we just can not see on the renders, then people will have to park in the city garages. I can’t imagine spots being set aside as the cities garages are already 3/4 full with permit parkers. The only thing that comes to mind is that the White House project is actually removing available parking spots as it is being built on current parking, however the Comstock is not taking away any spots. Or possibly, the developers were able to convince the city council that there was enough parking for UA 6 and with it’s removal, that parking will be available for tenants.
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Old December 8th, 2006, 04:24 PM   #9
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underground parking in santa rosa? that would be sick, but it seems unlikely.
i think u might be right about them setting aside parking in a garage. i remember i saw the bourne identity at that theater and i think i parked in the third st garage. i remember the theater was nearly empty, so a new use for that space is welcome in my view, parking or not.
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Old December 8th, 2006, 06:28 PM   #10
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Based on the plans that I've seen, The White House Project, on 3rd and E will have 1 to 2 levels of underground parking inaddition to the 5 above ground levels. Even with the above ground parking, I think the White House looks a hell of a lot better then the Comstock. Hopefully before the final plan is approved, the developers will do something to make it more asthetic
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Old December 15th, 2006, 07:04 PM   #11
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Space to park at SRJC






$31 million parking structure opens next month, adding 1,075 spots for commuters weary of circling campus
By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT



A five-story parking garage, faced with 1 million bricks and branded with Santa Rosa Junior College's distinctive oak leaf medallions, has risen on the eastern edge of the campus.

When it opens next month, it is hoped that it will solve one of the junior college's most vexing problems: a lack of parking.

"I have driven around for 45 minutes, and finally I just went and got coffee," said student Michael Baba of Guerneville. "I've parked in the high school lot and walked over here. It's ridiculous."

"Every day I have students come in late, and they're late because of parking," soccer coach Karen Stanley said. "Hopefully, this will fix that. I know it's frustrating for students."

Construction has been delayed by the wet weather, but at least the first three floors will open Jan. 17, when students return from the Christmas break for the spring semester, said Curt Groninga, the vice president of administrative services.

The $31 million structure will have 1,075 spaces for cars and motorcycles, increasing the number of campus parking spots by a third, to about 3,200.

Those parking spaces, which turn over three times a day, will serve 27,000 students who attend classes at the Santa Rosa campus each week.

In the past, the lack of parking has forced students and staff, who pay $60 a semester in parking fees, to drive around campus for 30 to 45 minutes looking for spots, often giving up and parking in the surrounding neighborhood.

"We have 400 to 700 students parking in the neighborhood every day," said Terry Stewart, the chief of the junior college police. "If they are willing to come back to campus, we will have them covered."

To those students, the parking garage is a welcome sight.

"Very much so," said Jenny Aldridge of Santa Rosa. "I've bought a parking pass and had to park off-campus and walk on."

Groninga said those have been common complaints.

"We have been under pressure for years and years to improve parking here," Groninga said.

The new garage has one subterranean floor and four floors above ground.

The distance on the parking ramp from the entrance to the top floor is a mile, and the structure is anchored on the corner by a 97-foot clock tower that will also have a carillon. It covers almost 2 acres.

The garage was built adjacent to Mendocino Avenue because of the access to the main street serving the campus, and also after eight other on-campus sites were studied but rejected, Groninga said.

The 1 million bricks in the facing are meant to help the structure blend into the existing campus buildings and to Santa Rosa High School just 300 feet away.

The garage was built with money from a $250 million bond that voters passed in 2002 and will be maintained by parking fees.

During construction, the junior college has run a free shuttle service to the campus from the Santa Rosa Plaza shopping mall. It will be discontinued two to three weeks after the parking garage opens, Groninga said. That service costs the district about $250,000 a year
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Old December 16th, 2006, 07:31 PM   #12
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Yeah, I remember being a student at SRJC in the 90's and I had trouble finding parking, it was a nightmare sometimes. It's great they finally add a parking garage to provide extra space for the students.
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Old January 1st, 2007, 10:50 PM   #13
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^ added parking is great, but the nearby roads still cant sustain everyone driving. they should just put lrt down santa rosa/mendo ave. its like sr's main st.
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 01:42 AM   #14
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I agree, light rail would be cool however very expensive altho it has been done before in SR, check it out;


Petaluma and Santa Rosa street car


P & SR on a siding in Petaluma probably in the 60's




Horse drawn LRT at 4th and Mendo circa 1870


LRT 4th and Mendo Circa 1900


LRT tracks looking east down 4th from B circa 1925


Tracks and street car circa 1880 at 4th and Mendo
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Old January 5th, 2007, 05:42 PM   #15
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Railroad Square not in SRJC's plans
College officials worried about delays involving proposed food and wine center
By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT



Concerned that a proposed Railroad Square food and wine center isn't going to be built anytime soon, Santa Rosa Junior College has pulled its support and is looking elsewhere to build a new culinary arts school.

"We are disappointed, but we are not at all certain when that area will be ready to develop," Curt Groninga, SRJC vice president of administrative services, said Thursday.

Groninga said the lease on SRJC's culinary arts facility in downtown Santa Rosa expires in 18 months, and "we have to decide where in the district to put the new culinary center."

Michael Dieden, managing member of Railroad Square LLC, which has a contract to develop a $100 million food and wine center, said he, too, was disappointed, adding however that the loss of the junior college would not derail the plans.

"We have always considered the culinary arts school to be an important ingredient in our commercial mix at Railroad Square," Dieden said. "We are doing the public market, a couple of nice restaurants. The whole theme is the celebration of Sonoma County food and wine, so they fit in nicely."

Dieden said he is trying to set up a meeting with Groninga and Robert Agrella, the SRJC president, to ask them to reconsider.

If they don't, Dieden said the developers will look for another culinary school to be part of the project.

The college announced its intention to withdraw in a Dec. 22 letter to the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit agency, which owns the 5½ acres in Railroad Square where the food and wine center is to be developed.

Bob Jehn, a Cloverdale city councilman and member of the transit agency board, said he didn't think the junior college's withdrawal would hinder plans for the development.

"This project is too big, it is bigger than any one component, so it might not even slow it down," he said. "I would be surprised if it would slow down the progress."

Dieden said the development is planned to be along the lines of the Ferry Building in San Francisco, with 20 produce vendors in a 30,000-square-foot market, a restaurant, bicycle shop, child care center and 250 condominium units.

The proposal calls for construction to begin in early 2008 and to be open in 2010.

SRJC, in anticipation of the food and wine center's being built, moved its culinary arts program five years ago from its Santa Rosa campus to a 5,000-square-foot facility in the Brickyard building on Seventh Street downtown.

While a lease extension will be considered, Groninga said the college wants to have a new, 15,000-square-foot culinary arts school to teach cooking, baking and restaurant management in about two years.

That could require looking for space on or near the Santa Rosa or Petaluma campuses to build the new culinary arts school, at a cost of about $4 million.

"What is driving us is not knowing how soon we can get into Railroad Square," Groninga said. "And because of waiting, there is a real worry about escalating construction costs."

Santa Rosa Mayor Bob Blanchard, who is an adjunct faculty member at SRJC, said he, too, hopes college administrators might change their minds.

"Having the junior college culinary arts program in the food and wine center is a major enhancement," Blanchard said. "Imagine walking into the market, and there you have this entire floor that is chefs in the making. You can visualize how productive that is. I would hate to see that go to another site."
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Old January 5th, 2007, 10:58 PM   #16
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I agree, light rail would be cool however very expensive altho it has been done before in SR, check it out;

Wow, I never knew that Santa Rosa-Petaluma had streetcars back then. That's cool, though. Too bad it's not running today, I guess.
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Old January 9th, 2007, 06:29 PM   #17
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Nice to finally see a Santa Rosa topic around these parts. Question...does anyone know what they're doing w/ the old Payless/Rite Aid & Circuit City building on Cleveland & Guerneville? I've noticed they've gutted the Rite Aid side...done nothing w/ the Circuit City side yet. I was hoping they'd demo that building (old and outdated) and put in something we can actually utilize in that space. I hope they don't convert it into a strip mall. That area does need some updating.
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Old January 9th, 2007, 06:47 PM   #18
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nevermind...I see we're getting a Staples in that location, on the Rite Aid side. Undetermined for old CC side. I can live w/ a Staples.
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Old January 14th, 2007, 07:11 PM   #19
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County to add 10 acres to airport
Land would add to buffer zone needed to lengthen runway for use by small jet airliners
By BLEYS W. ROSE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT



Sonoma County is close to securing a key property for airport expansion, a 10-acre parcel needed for extending a runway far enough to handle small jet airliners.

For years, the county has been eyeing property at 1808 Sanders Road because it sits in a prominent position in the runway configuration at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.

"It is part of the buffer property that is needed to protect the airspace around the airport," said Jon Stout, airport manager. "If the extended runway project ever does get approved, then it would be needed."

Acquisition of a crucial section of airport buffer comes at a time when the airport is set to resume commercial air service after a five-year absence. On March 21, Horizon Air is scheduled to begin flying two daily fights to Los Angeles and one to Seattle and it has announced bargain fares to stimulate ticket sales.

Ever since United Express quit flying out of the county airport in late 2001, county officials and business leaders have maintained the airport lacks runways long enough to attract most carriers.

Airport expansion, still about five years off, calls for extending the 5,100-foot main runway to 6,000 feet.

Turboprops, used by United Express and Horizon, can use the current runway, but short-haul regional jets require a longer one. Airline companies say passengers generally prefer the speed and comfort of traveling in jets, but propeller-driven planes offer an alternative for airports such as Sonoma County.

Tuesday, county supervisors approved a short-term loan of $1million to purchase the property. About 90percent of the purchase price will be reimbursed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

According to Stout, property owners Steve and Cheryl Nemeth have obtained an appraisal valuing the land at $950,000, more than the county's original purchase offer of $860,000. Negotiations are continuing, he said.

Stout said the temporary loan is needed because the FAA in 2005 changed its policies on funding land purchases around airports. Now, the FAA requires extensive environmental reviews on property acquisitions for proposed runway extension projects before approving funds.

Stout said an environmental study on runway extension is likely to take two years. Until the county is reimbursed, Stout said revenues from the return of commercial air service by Horizon Air will be used to repay the loan.

"This property is an important component of our plans for runways for planes landing in the future, as well as for the airport's private-plane operations," said Paul Kelley, the north county representative on the Board of Supervisors.

Stout said the county has acquired about 75 acres of land targeted by the Airport Master Plan that identifies parcels in a buffer area that, ideally, would sit between airport facilities and developed areas. Approximately 100 more acres remain to be acquired, which under the plan, must be secured from willing sellers.
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Old January 14th, 2007, 10:21 PM   #20
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I'd love for the Sonoma County airport to expand, but it'll be a big fight. We're still at least 5yrs away from getting the runway expanded to 6000 ft (the minimum for regional planes....7000ft prefered). I hope Horizon Air succeeds. I know other airlines are interested in coming to Santa Rosa (Aloha for one is still interested). It was a long 5yrs w/o service. We just need that runway!!!
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