The Santa Rosa City Council gave a tentative green light to a developer who wants future residents of his downtown high-rise to be able to drive on a street now restricted to bus traffic.

On a 6-0 vote, the council instructed city staff to continue working with Hugh Futrell to find a way that future residents of Museum on the Square project will be able to safely access the building through the city transit mall on Second Street.

Futrell said the proposal will increase the leasable space by avoiding putting a driveway through the ground floor of the building.

City traffic officials had objected to Futrell's request, citing the possible interference with city buses and safety concerns for pedestrians.

But after hearing a presentation from an independent traffic engineer who said it could be done safely, council members said they thought the project was important enough to give it a try.

"There's lot of way to make this thing work," Councilman Scott Bartley said.

Museum on the Square is a city redevelopment project that proposes to transform the monolithic former AT&T building downtown into a 10-story glass tower with a museum and restaurant on the first floor and office and residential units above.

The project promises to create 261 short-term construction jobs, 523 long-term jobs and $68 million in annual economic activity.

"I think it's important that we start working these things through and try to get this project moving forward," Mayor Ernesto Olivares said.