After a long and bitter process, the Rohnert Park City Council approved the Redwood Crossing Development Tues., Nov. 27 after their developer struck a deal for more affordable housing.
The Redwood Crossing Development is a new high density residential apartment complex planned for the space behind the Press Democrat office on the corner of Dowdell Avenue and Business Park Drive. The current architectural plan for the complex calls for 156 units. “To add another 156 units to that street I think would be a lot,” Denise Weems, apartment manager and resident at Fiori Estates, said. “I would consider something smaller. Dowdell already gets quite a bit of traffic with Costco and the casino and everything and traffic can get a bit tedious coming home.”
The sticking point for the Redwood Crossing Development circled mainly around the development’s obligation towards affordable housing. When it was first proposed, the developer, Advanced Building Solutions, offered to pay a $465,000 fee that would go towards providing access to affordable housing.
But that didn’t satisfy the council. They kicked the Redwood Crossing Development back to the Advanced Building Solutions twice, eschewing the financial compensation and demanding instead a percentage of the units.
The council wanted 15 percent. What they got was 10 percent.
It still wasn’t enough for Councilmember Belforte, not if it involved re-districting the lot behind the Press Democrat building from industrial to high density residential. A recent report to the city council stressed Rohnert Park’s growing demand for industrial zoning. Satisfying that demand will be vital for the future economic health of the city.
For those reasons, Belforte voted against the Redwood Crossing Development. “What I’m going to do is I’m going to take the longer view on the economic health of Rohnert Park,” Belforte said. “I really don’t believe that 10 percent affordable housing is enough to offset the loss of industrial land.”
Also against the development was Vice Mayor Joseph Callinan. Though Callinan was absent in the vote that granted the final approval, he expressed his disagreement with the development in the meeting prior.
“Unfortunately I still think over in that area, it’s not the right location for any more units,” Callinan said. “I’ve said it since we’ve been approving these for a couple years now that there’s no parks over there really, there’s no area for kids to play and I’ve just got to put down my foot somewhere.”
So it was by a slim, 3-1-1 majority the Rohnert Park City Council voted to approve the Redwood Crossing Development with Callinan absent.
In addition to the 16 affordable housing units, Advanced Building Solutions will be on the hook for $1.4 million to improve parks in the neighborhood and approximately $129,000 annually to cover public safety and other utilities. They’ll also have to mitigate any environmental damage that the development may cause. This includes disturbing the endangered tiger salamander habitat, and the expected costs for these environmental fees can reach upwards into the millions.