Petaluma council OKs revamped design for Target center

Despite arguments from big-box opponents, the Petaluma City Council voted 4-2 Monday night to approve a developer's request to resize some of the buildings in the already approved, Target-based East Washington Place shopping center.

Opponents argued that Regency Centers' request to change six mid-size buildings into four larger ones to accommodate potential tenants' needs showed the project is becoming a big-box development not envisioned when it was approved last year.

The council denied Regency's request to add 15 new parking spaces directly in front of two smaller stores, which the developer said was viewed as "critical" by tenants.

Notwithstanding that relatively minor loss, company spokesman Ryan Nickelson said the company will move forward.

"We're going to build a shopping center," he said after the vote.

The requested changes didn't seek to increase the overall square footage of the center, which includes about 378,000 square feet of commercial and office space on almost 34 acres on the former Kenilworth Junior High School site adjacent to Highway 101.

Regency said it needed the changes to land specific tenants, who want the stores' sizes and layouts to be consistent with their other outlets.

Regency is in negotiations with Dick's Sporting Goods, Sunflower Farmers Market, Sprouts Farmers Market and TJ Maxx housewares and clothing stores, Nickelson said. Leases haven't been inked yet.

A 140,000-square-foot Target has long been identified as the main anchor tenant. Monday's vote included the elimination of Target's outdoor garden center, replacing it with an equal amount of indoor retail space.

East Washington Place had a long and sometimes tortuous route to approval. It was first proposed in 2004 at the behest of city leaders and approved on a 5-2 vote in February 2010.

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