December 11, 2018
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Official election winners as projected by the VOICE Cougars’ season comes to a tearful sad conclusion Animal Shelter League of RP receives grant Rohnert Park kid joins TCU Rancho advances to semifinals Tech High Girl's Soccer Undefeated champions! New residential building lands approved Cotati Council reviews trash plan Newsom’s vision “cradle to career” Bad air quality cancels sports Fun family Christmas events in Cotati University Elementary School to host Maker World at SSU DA’s office awarded DUI Prosecution Grant  Sonoma Clean Power offers no-cost energy upgrades LandPaths connects people to protected land Cotati allows second dispensary Dr. Dominguez and Hawkins named as director and co-director for Hanna Institute Rohnert Park honors its Veterans and Servicemen The Community Voice endorses candidates Active duty honorees at the RP Veterans Day program Frightful, fun, free Halloween activities Cougars crush Ukiah Election projected winners November 6, 2018 Public invited to give input on Downtown RP Site School board candidates voice opinions Woman stabbed on west side of RP State Farm property steams forward to Station Avenue Scrappers Steal Win RP Foundation issues grant Rancho Cotate Band fundraiser BBQ Jessica Holman: Thirty-five years of Rancho Spirit Titans crush Mustangs New interim superintendent Krispy Kreme Doughnuts comes to Rohnert Park  Cougars blow past Gauchos  Cotati Chamber of Commerce Oktoberfest Rancho crushes Analy CA Homemaker Association needs volunteers RP’s new interim police chief Big changes to big project in Rohnert Park A possibility for Snyder Lane to have four lanes soon Penngrove Community Church celebrates 120 years Cotati approves tree lighting City of Cotati has apartment housing parking problems Students at University Elementary discussing the labyrinth Rohnert Park City Council Candidates R P Foundation gives grants to NOAH and Petaluma Bounty Summit State Bank annual report March for the blind highlights need for more accessible sidewalks Cougar to Bear — Simmons’ new pelt SRJC picks up local quarterback The Cougars defeat the Jaguars at homecoming Kids and firefighters compete in RP RP local, Petri Alva, 14, a nationally recognized athlete SweetPea celebrates 31 years Seawolves serve up a victory Cardinals rout Cougars How to help victims of wildfires Polynesia celebrated at annual Pacific Islander Festival Fire storm anniversary Plan approved for Station Ave. park Football in full swing, 3rd win Arrests and charges target Apple stores Annie Rasmussen Celebration of Life Revisiting those who lost it all: October wildfire victims still on the road to recovery SMART celebrates a year of service RP Public Safety report card Penngrove native set for amazing voyage Cotati votes opposition to oil leases SC neighborhood sues illegal pot grower Penngrove grassfire destroys buildings Cotati Accordion Festival still a hit after 28 years RP residents provide input in police chief search Forum hosted by WLV for RP City Council candidates Supply giveaways lend a hand to families Police officers inspect inside of car Lowerys help with campaign Yes on Measure W will keep fire stations open RP to host community forum for public safety director search Emergency Alert System Test Sept. 10 & 12 Spreckels and Alchemia connects community It wasn’t an easy fight but Rancho wins again RP Safety Dept. climbs in remembrance of 9/11/18 Back to school for Rohnert Park and Cotati Another tough break for roller derby RP waits to make update to emergency alert system Cougars slay Dragons Third pedestrian struck by SMART train Enjoying ribs Little ones with big Polynesian dancing spirit Sidewalk repair gets big break from City of RP RP Health Center celebrates anniversary Imitating major leaguers Rohnert Park waiting for approval for canine program

Station Avenue gets final approval

By: Joshua Farestveit-Moore
November 16, 2018

It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quick, but Tues., Nov. 13, the Rohnert Park City Council unanimously approved the Station Avenue Project.

Station Avenue is the future downtown section of Rohnert Park that will take the place of the State Farm property located on the corner of State Farm Drive and the Rohnert Park Expressway.

“Rohnert Park is a fabulous place to raise your children. The one thing it has missed is a heart,” Councilmember Gina Belforte said. “What a heart does is it joins everything together. A heart is the seat of emotion. Many times when people want to have a nice birthday, or an anniversary, or a baby-shower they go someplace else. They don’t have to do that anymore.”

Laulima Development is in charge of the 32-acre project and their planned construction for the area next to the Smart Rail Station is nothing if not ambitious. It includes 460 residential units, 270 thousand square feet of office and retail space and a brew-pub of all things. On top of all that, there’s also going to be a 156 room upscale hotel complete with matching parking garage.

That scale of a project would bring change to any community and Rohnert Park is certainly no exception. The recent alteration to building codes in the newly approved downtown section creates a ‘walkable neighborhood’ rule, which limits the size of new city blocks to that which people may reasonably transverse on foot. This will apply across the board to any future development or significant remodel in the downtown area.

And that means smaller pretty much everything, with the exception of buildings. By shrinking the maximum block size the city council hopes to create a more cohesive feel for the new downtown section. They want walking and biking to be people’s preferred choice for getting around.

This desire factored into the council’s decision to prohibit drive-through outlets in the downtown area. They went so far as to deny a petition by Argonaut Construction, new owners of the Raley’s Shopping Center, to allow them to include a drive-through coffee house in a future, potential remodel.

It was not a unanimous decision. Vice Mayor, Joseph Callinan, provided the sole dissenting vote to the change in ordinance.

“I just feel like we’ve put Argonaut Construction, a new investor, into a bit of a pickle,” Callinan said. “I know we want our downtown and I know we think we’re doing what’s best, but they may not even renovate those buildings now. They may just sit like that. Shame on us for not even considering that.”

Everything told, Rohnert Park stands to pull in over $730,000 a year in revenue from the Station Avenue development once it’s up and running. Most of this number comes from the sales tax generated by the property’s commercial units, though a significant portion will stem from the upscale hotel. The city will not be on the hook for maintenance and improvements of the property’s pipes nor its parking garage. Those are the developer’s responsibility.

Rohnert Park’s financial responsibility revolves mostly around the $700,000 in park improvements that the project requires. That money will buy roughly 1.1 acres of new park lands and include two new dog parks and the beautification of the area lining Commerce Blvd and the Rohnert Park Expressway.

“When State Farm went out, what a loss we thought it was for the city. But with Laulima coming in, what a wonderful opportunity we got from that. Who ever thought that we would ever have such a project in our downtown?” Rohnert Park Mayor, Pam Stafford, said. “People don’t realize how much work has gone into this in a year. This is a huge project to have come to this point in a year.

Laulima Development estimates that the new downtown section will be completed in late 2020.