Developer reconsiders pulling out of transit village project after offers of help come pouring in

The Railroad Square transit village was briefly derailed Thursday when the developer, frustrated over financing problems and under fire for proposing less housing, decided to pull out.

"I think on any given day if you are in this business, you wake up and question your own sanity," developer Michael Dieden said. "This morning was one of those."

By early afternoon, however, Dieden softened his position, saying he was "taking a timeout" to decide how to proceed.

Soon after he agreed to stay aboard, he said he had been besieged by offers of help from business and civic leaders.

"Everyone has rallied . . . we remain committed to this being a viable project," he said.

Dieden has set up meetings with rail and Santa Rosa officials next week to present ideas for the project, which is supposed to place a food and wine center, housing, and retail, restaurant and office space near a planned commuter rail line.

As word spread that Dieden might drop the project, he received offers of help obtaining financing from developers Hugh Futrell and Rick Derringer, both of whom have Railroad Square projects.

"We are having conversations on how we can assist him to hold the deal together," said Futrell, who initially was part of Dieden's Creative Housing Associates.

Futrell said they'll be looking this weekend at how they may be able to help finance Dieden's project, which was modeled on the Ferry Building on San Francisco's Embarcadero.

"We will review the numbers, identify his market concerns and see what we can do," Futrell said. "We know the residential stuff here better than anyone else."

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