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RP wants to attract more retail

By: Katherine Minkiewicz
June 22, 2018

Rohnert Park’s retail attraction plan will continue on strong as the city council decided last Tuesday to renew their retail consulting contract with the Design Guild and Dean Isaacs of Peninsula Development Advisors and Susan Barnes, sub-consultants who have helped shaped the city’s goals and phases of trying to attract trendy and popular businesses like Trader Joe’s and Dutch Brothers’ Coffee.

Many residents have voiced in community polls that there is a great desire for more non-chain restaurants and retailers. 

Common among many Rohnert Parkites is the phrase, “we need a white tablecloth restaurant,” which is currently an uncommon site for the city, which is home to an Olive Garden, Chili’s, Jack in the Box and many other fast food/chain restaurants. 

That is why part of the city’s 2018 Action Plan is to provide more retail choices for residents and to attract businesses that residents want, which the Design Guild has been working on with the city.

According to a presentation created by Rohnert Park City Planner III, Zach Tusinger, so far the retail attraction campaign has succeeded in creating a message for Rohnert Park that says, “We’re growing, we’re young and we have rising incomes.” Increased visibility and marketing has also been accomplished, a glossy retail brochure and two Sonoma County tourism videos were created for Rohnert Park. Also newly created, an array of acquaintances with prospective businesses.

“We’ve approved the contract with the retail consultants” because, “we’ve been working with them for a while. They are experts and they have great contacts in the industry,” said Don Schwartz, assistance city manager.

Continuing with their attraction plan, the city hopes to recruit more retail that compliments the future of Rohnert Park and its up and coming downtown — Rohnert Station.

According to city staff, they want to continue to work with Laulima — the developers of Rohnert Station and with PB&J at the Padre Town Center, to make sure potential new retailers fit in and complement the overall feel of the future, walkable and unique town center. 

“We’re really hoping all these things work together in concert to develop retail across Rohnert Park, but also in a really great downtown as all these pieces are moving around,” Tusinger said.

They’re also going to continue to listen to resident input, since Trader Joe’s is number one on the list of desired businesses.

According to Schwartz, Trader Joe’s has been interested in perhaps creating a location in Rohnert Park, however, there are no guarantees. City staff is urging residents to visit traderjoes.com/contact-us/location-request, where locals can submit a location request.

Other businesses that have expressed interest in maybe planting roots in RP, include, Chloe’s, Carmen’s Burger Bar, a chocolatier and a Santa Rosa yoga studio that was affected by the October wildfires in need of a new home.

Schwartz said new hotels are also coming, including Fairfield Inn and Suites and Home2 Suites. Krispy Kreme and a thin-crust pizza joint, NY Pizza are also slated to come in the near future.

The attraction plan will continue to network and develop ties and relationships with other businesses that may too express interest in coming to Rohnert Park.

Council member Jake Mackenzie said of the consultant contract plan, “I think this is a grand idea and I think we are absolutely moving in the right direction and with the imminent arrival of downtown Rohnert Park, the timing is right. Thumbs up.”