An old fruit-packing warehouse in downtown Healdsburg once targeted for demolition would get new life as a combination event and parking site under the latest plan for the property.
The proposal appears to satisfy concerns of those who rallied to save the 1920s building after the city bought it intending to replace it with a parking lot.
"It's kind of a win-win-win. It saves the building, it creates parking the city needs and provides an alternate event space to take pressure off the Plaza," said Alan Cohen, the Healdsburg architect who helped develop the concept.
"I'm pleased," said Barb Tuscany, the graphics designer who rallied to save the building.
The fate of the structure across the street from City Hall, which is seen as an important symbol of the town's agricultural heritage by some and an eyesore by others, has been debated since the city bought the property in 2004.
After preservationists clamored to save it, city officials balked at the $3.8 million cost of renovating the building to serve as a public meeting space for festivals and the farmers' market.
They also declined to approve a cheaper option to demolish the structure and erect a shade structure for parking and public events.
The new proposal, which will be considered Tuesday at 6 o'clock by the Planning Commission, would remove most of the sides and back of the building, but keep the vintage front facade.
The covered structure would be used for parking, as well as an "open air event pavilion" hosting the farmers' market, antique and art fairs and other festivals.
"I'm really happy the farmers' market is being considered in the plans," said Mary Kelley, manager of the Healdsburg Farmers' Market.
She said she was especially pleased with the proposal to keep the loading docks — the raised platforms that give it the appearance of a farmers' building.
"It's what I wanted," said City Councilman Gary Plass. "It gives them an inside area, open on both sides. When it's not used as the farmers' market, it's some really nice covered parking."
The city estimates the one-acre site will provide about 67 parking spaces.
The 1920s-era industrial structure next to the railroad initially was used for fruit packing when it was known as the "Cerri Brothers Produce Warehouse."
The building's width and open interior structure is suited to parking, according to city planners. Historic pictures of the interior show it was used for parking in the early Twentieth Century.
In more recent years, it was the "Purity Chemical Supply Warehouse and Store."
"To one group it is a legacy from our agricultural past, a symbol of simpler times, a vestige of the railroad age and a future home for the farmers' market," Healdsburg architect Jon Worden wrote in a background report. "To another it is an old metal shed, an eyesore, a potential toxic site and a future parking lot."
He said that the clash of opinions and the current state of the economy caused the building to remain in its current condition, with some informal parking on the property.
Cohen said he and Worden, both former Healdsburg planning commissioners, have been working for free on the conceptual plans for the property.
Under their proposal in consultation with the city redevelopment agency, the aged floor will be encapsulated in a new concrete slab, providing a smooth, clean surface.