July 16, 2018
link to facebook link to twitter
More Stories
Search still on for A&L Market robbery suspect SSU names new police chief RP fireworks to be added to agenda The biggest little parade in the U.S.A. celebrates the 4th 3.0 quake shakes RP 98 cited in traffic enforcement program A seed of thought grows into a peace garden: Burton garden completed A taste of nostalgia – Penngrove’s Power Up! Event 3.0 quake shakes Rohnert Park Possible sales tax increase to benefit local county parks Porch thieves strike again in RP Giudice throws hat into RP City Council ring Expo honors and remembers local vets Correction: Sonoma County elder abuse on the rise, RP reports still high Free family movies this summer Rancho 2018 cap toss Tech 2018 cap toss RP will extend contract with Recology despite rocky start Rancho varsity baseball team The Cotati City Council meeting A chance to see both local and world renowned artists at work RP Department of Public Safety swears in new officers/dispatchers RCHS 2018 Valedictorians Top award for Rotary Club of Rancho Cotati Despite training, clerks still sell alcohol to minors Local aid to Puerto Rico Two alarm fire displaces RP residents, destroys home Out of the ashes comes the first Coffey Park home Snyder era ends at age 92 RP’s new general plan to span next 20 years Crash simulation emphasizes emergency preparedness Car break-ins hit Liman Way Free tax prep assistance for low income residents CRPUSD Special Ed program falters Judson Snyder, columnist Remembering Cory Vaughn 53 alleged Brown Act violations RP partners with Rotary Clubs to clean up creeks RP nixes idea for hotel tax increase measure Sonoma County reports flu death Pursuit of erratic speeding driver leads to DUI arrest Crash causes small gas leak Standing together on gun reform Drunk driver tries to flee scene RP's new municipal regulations will try and curb parking problem Vehicle thefts drops SR woman killed by SMART train RP votes to change commissioner terms Rainfall levels are up – But not yet normal Council approves La Plaza park for fundraiser Correction: Graffiti threat tests Rancho’s emergency protocol Haircuts and meals for homeless National Walk Out Greenhouse gas reduction efforts RP cracking down on distracted driving Reconfiguration of RP schools Schools for climate action TRIO works in Rohnert Park SSU shines at United Nations Community SAIF celebrates heroes New RP homeless count and SR homeless camp eviction Gov. Brown swears in newCHP Commissioner SSU loses compassionate alumna Every 15 Minutes at the Ranch Traffic signal updates No future for local karaoke Bunnies and eggs come to Cotati A science guy goes angling Tour bus rams bridge on the way to Graton Casino

Rohnert Station designs show a hip and urban atmosphere for future downtown

  • A rendering for the design of Station Avenue - the future downtown, shows a bird's eye view of he central square. Photo courtesy of Rohnert Park City Council supplemental item.

By: Katherine Minkiewicz
June 29, 2018

Open air cafes, lush greenery, clean lines, natural elements and a modern flair were all part of Tuesday evening’s Laulima Development rendering presentation to the Rohnert Park City Council, which held a special study session to review potential designs for the city’s future downtown Rohnert Station, now known as Station Avenue. Following the presentation and review, council members seemed to overall like the plans, however, they had a few key concerns on some of the elements of the design, such as the use of palm trees, which do not often thrive in the Northern California climate.

In addition to the development plan and designs, Laulima also created a tentative map of the lay of the land for the new downtown square, which is centered around the SMART train station off Rohnert Park Expressway and the old State Farm property. 

The map shows a diverse and integrated downtown plan, with several parking structures near the train station and the expressway, around 460 residential unit townhomes near a neighborhood park, 12,000 square feet of office space near Enterprise Drive, a 156-room hotel and 130,000 square feet of retail centered around a central lawn and square.

While the map is a good aid in envisioning the scope and lay out of the future Station Avenue, the renderings give life to council members and Laulimas’ ideas of how the downtown hub may look.

Earlier this year at a January 9 city council meeting, city staff brought a presentation of different design and architectural elements in Rohnert Park, Cotati and other cities throughout the county, to garner ideas from city council members which elements they liked and which they didn’t. Council members ultimately decided that they prefer more of a modern, Mediterranean blend of styles.

While the renderings reflect more of an “urban contemporary” style, they do have many elements that council members said they would like to incorporate, including natural aspects such as wood and greenery and design pieces that create a sense of place — designated zones for farmer’s market or event tents, a common green and a portal area to the SMART train and retail shops — an aspect that Council member Jake Mackenzie supports.

“We want to bring character, to make it feel warm and interesting,” said Jes Slavik, director of planning and design at Laulima.

In addition to council member feedback, the designs rely heavily on potential tenants’ ideas for design and that is where the contemporary elements come into play. 

Many of the buildings in the renderings feature clean lines, warm colors, stonework and an open concept feel. The main square serves as the central gathering place, with a curved water feature, expansive lawn, plenty of mature trees, wooden pergolas and small stand cafes. Mixed-use buildings would have retail on the first floor, with tenants putting their own mark on the building by designing their own storefronts. Office space would take up the second floor and the rest of the floors for the five-story buildings would be dedicated to residential units.

“The designs for Station Avenue are urban in nature and borrow from a variety of architectural traditions,” the agenda item report by Planning Manager, Jeffrey Beiswenger and City Planner III, Zach Tusinger states. “The designs rely on high quality materials, functional architecture, well-thought out landscape design and place-making strategies, connections to parking and transit and active programming of civic and community events…”

Despite forgoing Mediterranean elements, Council member Gina Belforte said she is excited about this project and likes the idea for individual storefronts, the warm color palette and the elements of character. 

“I like the individual storefronts, I don’t want anything to look institutionalized… and I am all about character, it is those fine little things that can really make a difference and give you that sense of place,” Belforte said, who also mentioned that instead of palm trees at the entrance of the station, perhaps the redwood tree should be used to blend with the landscape style of the expressway. Yet there were some other major concerns with the designs, that it felt a little non-inclusive towards the other parts of town, such as the Raley’s Town Center and that the massive parking garage planned may be an eyesore.

Slavik said they will try to keep all sides of the downtown attractive with landscaping and character elements and also said they plan to have paths from the downtown connect to the two Raleigh’s Town Center entrances to try and foster connectivity with other shopping destinations.

Council member Amy Ahanotu voiced to the council and attendees, that Rohnert Park may not be as quiet after this and despite the fact that people want more of a nightlife, the downtown still has to be considerate to those who want a serene environment.

“I see a very promising project and I like what I see, but remember, we have people that want a quiet environment. We have to make sure to include neighborhoods in the process,” Ahanotu said.  

With these comments and concerns in consideration, the next step for the project will be working with the applicant to finalize the final draft of the development plan, site plan and architectural plans.

After park and planning commission approval, the final plan, conditional use permit, tentative map, development agreement, compliance document and form-based code, will all come back to city council for final approval either later summer or early this fall.

Laulima developers hope this streamlined approval approach will mean having the downtown complete in the third quarter of 2020.