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December 12, 2017
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Cotati authorizes development of boutique Reverb-brand hotel

  • Design inspiration for the future Reverb-brand Cotati hotel by Hard Rock Photo courtesy of City of Cotati agenda item packet 12A.e.

By: Katherine Minkiewicz
December 1, 2017

Hard Rock — the rock inspired company known for its cafes sprinkled across the country, is one step closer to building its own trendy music-inspired “Reverb-brand hotel” in Cotati at St. Joseph Way after the Cotati City Council gave the OK to City Manager Damien O’Bid to execute an agreement for the development of the Hotel.

The plan for the hotel development falls in line with the city’s desire to redevelop the park and ride property near St. Joseph Way as the “northern gateway” of the Downtown Specific Plan Area. The Downtown Specific Plan was adopted in August of 2009 and for the Northern Gateway district of Cotati calls for revitalizing the area.

According to the Downtown Specific Plan, objectives in revamping the Northern Gateway area of town include, “transforming underutilized land into a mixed use district, reconfiguring Old Redwood Highway into a vibrant, mixed use, modal and beautiful urban street, provide a variety of open space, housing… and pedestrian oriented retail in mixed-use buildings.” 

Development of this hotel hopes to “transform” the underused two-acre plot in order to “anchor the northern gateway of the Downtown Specific Plan Area,” according to the agenda item report prepared by O’Bid.

The two-acre plot of land was acquired by the city from Caltrans and was then designated by city council as the perfect site for a hotel or lodging accommodations since the site is close to Highway 101 and Gravenstein Highway.

Hard Rock’s development plan for the Reverb Cotati includes concepts and designs for a vibrant hot spot for travelers and wine country goers centered around a “Sonoma County Proud” theme.

“Our vision for the design of the hotel is to capture the elements of Sonoma County, past and present, that make our style of life here so rich. From our rich agricultural heritage, to our internationally famous wine industry, to the dairy ranches that still dot the rolling hills of the West County, to rich musical history of Cotati, to the bustle of downtown Santa Rosa, all of these things will influence the look and feel of the hotel,” the Reverb Cotati Development plan explains. 

O’Bid believes the plan for the hotel will complement the feel of downtown Cotati and in the long-run will benefit the city by bringing in more tourism since, “Cotati is the only Sonoma County city that doesn’t partake in the large Sonoma County tourism industry,” O’Bid said. He also mentioned that he is “personally excited” about the plans.

The hotel will have around 152 rooms, a pool and rec area, garden area for wedding ceremonies, coffee bar, a lounge for serving wine and beer, a stage for local performances, a fitness center and around 3,000 square feet of adaptable meeting space for local community events.

After the city acquired the land adjacent to the freeway in July the city issued a request for proposals for a lodging development and received eight different letters of interest regarding the property and only received two formal proposals, one of which was from Hard Rock hotels for their Reverb brand of hotels. 

The city hopes to capitalize on the potential of receiving a transient occupancy tax if the hotel is built as what it’s currently planned and envisioned as. This source of revenue would provide funds to the city that would go towards the City’s General Fund, which helps finance public safety, maintenance of local infrastructure and recreation services.

The city will also receive a “good faith” deposit of $200,000 and sale of the property in question to a tune of $2,375,000 once the developer entitles the project, according to the item agenda.

Mayor Susan Harvey supported this developer agreement for having hip hotel in town centered around Cotati and the style of Sonoma County. Harvey believes it will be a good project for Cotati to pursue.

“The musical focus of the Reverb-brand hotel is a perfect match for Cotati’s deep musical history. We’re excited that they chose Cotati to bring this new concept that will fill what we believe in an unmet need for our active Sonoma County visitors that want to bike our hills, kayak in the Russian River, visit the Sonoma Coast, enjoy the Sonoma County culinary and wine experience and visit our local businesses,” Harvey said in a statement issued in a press release.

However, not all believed this to be a good deal. Cotati resident George Barich said he thought a better idea for bringing in tourists lies in an older tourism idea, which includes having people come through town make a few purchases or have a meal then be on their way to wine country, a more low-key and quiet tourism idea that he seemed to support more than the development of the Northern Gateway area and hotel.

There was also concern voiced by council members about the style of Hard Rock Hotels and its association with raucous guests and parties, however, asset owner of the land, Ken Molinaro, emphasized that the Reverb-brand of Hard Rock hotels is quite different and is centered around the theme of a quiet, local, boutique hotel for an older demographic with a smaller room count and local inspired design and spirit. 

“It is a labor of love and it is important to me that it fits in with the community,” Molinaro said of the hotel concept and design.

Another perk of this hotel development that the city is looking forward to is an influx of tourism. The agenda item report states that, “It will bring substantial tourism traffic to local businesses, which will provide a substantial boost to our local businesses and allow Cotati to begin to participate in the large tourism economy in Sonoma County.”

According to statistics compiled by Sonoma County tourism, annual tourism spending for the county is around $1.93 billion and collected $158.4 million in government tax revenue. The influx of tourism has also lead to 20,410 jobs in the tourism industry.  

Destination Analysts Inc., who publishes a quarterly survey on “The State of the American Traveler,” says that for Americans, expectations for leisure travel and spending is at a “...high, with 34 percent of American travelers expecting to increase their leisure travel spending.”

All these stats point towards a positive outlook for Cotati and Sonoma County tourism and with the fresh and country inspired design with soft colors and quaint outdoor gardens, Reverb Hotel and Cotati can start to beckon in tourists.