|SunCal buys State Farm site
RP City Hall looks forward to company’s plans for property next to SMART train depot
Department heads in city hall are awaiting the next move from SunCal Co. of Irvine, the company that bought the vacant State Farm Insurance Company’s regional headquarters campus in Rohnert Park.
SunCal’s purchase must go through municipal procedures like any other sale of land within city limits. These include rezoning, environmental impact review, planning commission and city council appearances, public hearings, architectural reviews, a General Plan amendment, impact studies on water and sewage systems and traffic analysis. There’s even a possibility of a ballot for voters if anything controversial arises with SunCal’s plans.
SMART train station mentioned
But all this is in the future. As RP City Manager Darrin Jenkins said, “It’ll probably take close to two years to finalize all their plans.”
He’s had talks with SunCal’s Joe Guerra, manager of the company’s Northern California acquisitions. Guerra has intimated his company is in favor of tying into the SMART commute rail station and connections with RP’s planned downtown area north of RP Expressway, but nothing solid on any other plans except to mention “mixed use” for commercial and housing units. The property is already in the city’s Planned Development Area (PDA), which gives it special emphasis on future growth.
Marilyn Ponton, RP’s director of development, said, “We don’t have any plans as yet as what they want to do here. We should be getting some applications in the next few weeks.”
No plans yet on RPX crossing
Added Jenkins, “I’ve no idea on how the city’s going to manage any pedestrian and bicycle traffic across RP Expressway, that’s way into the future. Speaking as an engineer, the best way is an underpass, that’s long been a pipe dream of mine.”
Jenkins was formerly RP City Engineer before being named assistant city manager then city manager when Gabe Gonzalez stepped away from the position to take a similar position in Kansas.
SunCal Co. has long history
SunCal began more than 70 years ago when an emigrant from Europe, Boris Elieff, created a “different kind of real estate company.”
The company grew over the years and now has developments with shopping centers and housing in many cities including Fullerton, Corona, San Marcos, Beaumont, Oxnard, Victorville and Orange. In Northern California, they’ve built in Pt. Richmond, Lincoln (near Sacramento), Dublin and Stockton.
City named street State Farm in 1977
State Farm Insurance built its regional offices in 1977 on a vacant 227-acre parcel in the middle of Rohnert Park. The city named the street State Farm Drive in honor of their move and the many jobs it brought. They closed this office in 2011 and moved its work to their Bakersfield regional office. Some employees moved south with State Farm to continue working with the company, but many others opted to stay in Sonoma County and seek work here.
“It’s definitely a key property exchange for the city,” said Jenkins.