Rohnert Park council clears way for up to 1,645 homes

The Rohnert Park City Council on Tuesday approved changes to a long-stalled housing project just north of Sonoma State University that could add up to 1,645 homes starting as soon as next year.

The University District development, Rohnert Park's first large housing project in 24 years, was approved in 2006, but ground to a halt during the recession. Last summer, developer Brookfield Homes revived the project with proposed changes to the plan to reflect the shifting housing market.

"I think the changes we have made are relative to 2014," Councilwoman Pam Stafford said. "This is what we needed to do to make it feasible."

The revised plan on 300 acres west of Petaluma Hill Road includes 130 more medium-density homes and about 400 fewer high-density, multifamily units.

"There is a significant shortage of housing in California," Councilwoman Gina Belforte said. "I don't doubt that these places will go quickly."

Brookfield plans to start grading lots this year with building construction starting at the beginning of 2015, company vice president Kevin Pohlson said in an interview.

"This is a good project," Vice Mayor Amy Ahanotu said. "Let us move it a little faster."

The new plan includes two parks, bike trails and a commercial plaza.

It also scales back the commercial and mixed-use space by about 75,000 square feet. The commercial space will be moved directly across Rohnert Park Expressway from the $145 million Green Music Center in the hopes that concertgoers will patronize the new shops and restaurants.

City Manager Darrin Jenkins said developers could attract a boutique hotel to the commercial center.

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