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November 17, 2018
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State Farm property steams forward to Station Avenue

By: Joshua Farestveit-Moore
November 2, 2018

Applause resounded through the chambers of city hall as the Rohnert Park Planning Commission voted unanimously on Thurs., Oct. 25th to finalize the plans for the Station Avenue project. The Station Avenue project proposes to replace the now abandoned State Farm property off the Rohnert Park Expressway. It’s hoped by the planning commission and many residents within the city that the project will provide a centralized place for people to gather and hold events within the community—something that Rohnert Park has long lacked. “I’ve raised two children here. They’re no longer in Rohnert Park. They’re in cities with downtowns where they can go out with my grandsons,” longtime resident, Gary Jeffcoat, said. “If you look at every city in Sonoma County you see a thriving downtown. Rohnert Park needs this.” The Station Avenue project has been in development since 2017 and it is nothing if not ambitious. For starters there’s a hotel—a 156 room upscale hotel complete with parking garage. Next there’s a large apartment complex with 460 residential units, then there’s a brewery, a dog park and over 270 thousand square feet of retail and office space. It’s estimated by the Planning Commission that the project will bring in a tax revenue of $730,000 a year into the city. All together the project has the potential to completely change the landscape of Rohnert Park. But the State Farm property is prime real estate now that the Smart Train is running and the city has demanded a cut of the new apartments. Fifteen percent of the units will be reserved for affordable housing. The goal, according to the planning commission, was to create a mixed economic environment within the proposed downtown development. While the majority of the residents that spoke at Thursday’s meeting were in favor of the project, a few expressed hesitations. Barbara Mackenzie, wife of Councilmember Jake Mackenzie, was one of the voices preaching caution. “My greatest disappointment is a lack of ‘For Sale’ housing. It’s a tremendous loss,” Mackenzie said. “Only renters get to live in the downtown. No one can buy a property and be part of the community.” Next up for the Station Avenue project is a trip over to the Rohnert Park City Council for final consideration of its development plan. The decision by the council takes place in November. If the Station Avenue project is approved, Laulima Development, the project’s developer, estimates that the final completion date will be in the 3rd quarter of 2020.