Thousands jammed The Barlow in Sebastopol on Saturday, marking the grand opening of the $32 million retail, arts and restaurant district on the city's formerly rundown east side.
"I think it's awesome; it gives the town the opportunity to do something at home and not have to go to other places" for fun and culture, Sebastopol resident Terri McCall said.
Husband Al McCall agreed. "It's beautiful," he said. "Love the artisans, love the restaurants; it's very cool."
The Barlow Street Fair
San Jose resident Alyssa Merenbach came to the party with her parents, who live in Santa Rosa. She said she was particularly delighted that the restaurant Zazu had moved from its old location on Guerneville Road to the gleaming new warehouse-like space in The Barlow.
"I love all the local art" in The Barlow, she said. "The restaurant Zazu is something we especially keep coming back to. We liked it when it was in the roadhouse and we like it even more now that it's bigger and more open here."
Workers just put the final details on the 220,000-square-foot complex on Friday, project manager Yolanda Lopez said, allowing the long-awaited Community Market, a worker-run natural food store, to open. Space in The Barlow, the site of a former apple processing plant, is more than 80 percent rented. Only four small spaces and one larger space are available.
Several tenants have leased space but have yet to open, including Village Bakery, MacPhail Family Wines and Warped Brewing. Most of these tenants will be open by January, though some may take as long as the spring to open their doors.
Others, including Taylor Maid Farms Organic Coffee, Woodfour Brewing, Zazu, and Spirit Works Distillery have been open for weeks and report strong traffic.
The owners of Circle of Hands, a store specializing in natural products and creative toys, opened at The Barlow just more than a week ago, and owners say it is a vast improvement over their former location on Healdsburg Avenue.
"It really turned around the business," said co-owner Emma Mann, who makes and sells her line of soaps in a workshop behind the retail store.