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Petaluma City Council weighs two major projects

Petaluma council members Monday night will consider two significant development proposals that could drastically change the face of downtown and the Petaluma River area.

The first is an economic assessment conducted for the proposed Riverfront mixed-use project at 500 Hopper St., between Highway 101 and the Petaluma River.

The other is a master planning document for the area surrounding the planned SMART rail station on East Washington and Lakeville streets.

The city-mandated fiscal and economic impact analysis analyzes the 39-acre project's impacts on the local economy, employment and existing businesses.

Riverfront, a proposal by Basin Street Properties, includes 273 residential units, 90,000 square feet of commercial space, a 120-room hotel and seven acres of open space on vacant land between the river and the highway.

The council is discussing only the economic-impact report, not considering approval the project itself.

The report estimates the project, when fully built, will generate more than $600,000 annually in net financial benefits to the city. A third of that would go to the city's general fund, which is the primary fund used to pay for city services and employees' wages.

Much of that would come from the hotel tax charged to overnight visitors. The hotel is expected to be similar to a Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn or Marriott Courtyard.

No specific restaurant or retail tenants are identified, but the report said likely tenants could include service businesses such as nail and hair salons, dry cleaners and cafes.

The project also includes 100 apartments and 39 townhouses near the front of the property and 134 single-family dwellings situated toward the river at the rear of the parcel. Office space, the hotel and retail uses are near the front, surrounding an oval "central green" in the middle of the property, next to a park with a soccer field.

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