For years the joke in Petaluma was that there was no place in town to buy a 2-by-4.
But with Friedman's Home Improvement set to open its third Sonoma County store in Petaluma this month, that has changed.
Couple that with the Target center's opening last year, home goods, sporting goods and home improvement supplies — among the chief products Petalumans used to leave town to buy — are now a short drive away.
Of course, there is Orchard Supply Hardware for smaller lumber orders and Kohl's for affordable clothing.
But the proposals that yielded Petaluma's two largest shopping centers, both anchored by big-box chains, created heated disagreements among the community and the City Council on what size and style of development were appropriate for Sonoma County's second-largest city.
The Target project sparked two lawsuits and a $150,000 settlement with an opposition group, while developers of the Friedman's project agreed to fund nearly $200,000 in amenities opponents wanted in order to head off threatened litigation.
Now that the nastiest development battles of the past decade are over, with Target's East Washington Place already open and Friedman's Deer Creek center well underway, what's next for development in Petaluma?
Developers and critics alike suggest the smaller scale of future projects means that disputes are likely to take place at the neighborhood level rather than drawing in the whole city.
"Infill projects usually have a much higher component of acceptability for people, because they see there is less impact on the infrastructure," said Matt Maguire, a former city councilman who challenged the Target center and other developments as inappropriate for Petaluma.
At the same time, changes in or near established neighborhoods can create passionate opposition from those directly affected.
The City Council, meanwhile, has shifted to a more development-friendly majority.
Currently, applications for commercial projects with the city's planning department are outnumbered by housing projects or mixed-use projects with a residential component.
Much of that is driven by a renewed faith in the housing market, post-recession.
"No one would do much for a long time," said Petaluma city planner Tiffany Robbe. "We are seeing interest in people actually looking to build something, which people were too scared to do for a few years."
The city has applications for more than 1,000 new housing units, which are in various stages of evaluation. About half of them have been approved or are in active review by city planners and could receive public scrutiny this year.
Others — including a 282-unit apartment complex along the Petaluma River about a mile south of the Petaluma Village Premium Outlets mall — are in the early phases of environmental analysis.
Commercial or retail project applications are few. Those that have been sought are tiny compared with Deer Creek and East Washington Place.
"Two of the biggest available properties have been developed, so from here on out anything that happens is going to be lesser in size and impact," Maguire said.
Among the current proposals: the Petaluma Health Care District wants to build a Walgreens on land it owns across from Petaluma Valley Hospital, Safeway has proposed a gas station and Lagunitas Brewing is seeking permission to build a 20,000-square-foot distribution building.
Two hotels are in the works and a third — renovation of the historic Silk Mill — has been approved, but developers halted progress during the economic downturn.