Santa Rosa City Hall will study an alternative design for the ambitious Museum on the Square project that would change the way drivers reach parking areas and potentially improve the economic viability of the downtown redevelopment project.
Developer Hugh Futrell, who is leading an effort to transform the city-owned former AT&T building into a 10-story mixed-use tower, wants to shift the planned parking access from Third Street on the north side of the building to Second Street on the south side.
There's just one problem — that stretch of Second Street is home to the city's transit mall, where buses are welcome but cars are not.
Futrell, whose $23 million project is seen by many as potentially providing an economic boost to the downtown, wants the city to lift the prohibition on private vehicle access and allow future residents of Museum on the Square to reach the building parking through the transit mall.
But transit officials are balking, arguing that it raises a host of operational and safety issues, particularly the need to keep buses on schedule.
“Our big thing is we want to make sure we remove obstacles to our buses running on time,” said Jason Parrish, administrative services officer for the city transit department.
Adding private vehicles to an area heavily used by pedestrians and four bus services could create conflicts that have not been fully examined, Parrish said.
The current development agreement between Futrell and the city calls for
drivers to enter the building on Third Street through a two-lane
driveway that tunnels through the first floor to reach a small surface
parking lot on the south side of the building. From there, residents
would take be able to access the basement parking, Futrell said.
The agreement also says that the design may be changed if the council agrees to allow residential access from Second Street. That would be preferable to Futrell for several reasons.