Sonoma County-based Friedman's Home Improvement store is working toward filling the void created last month when Lowe's, a national competitor, backed out as the centerpiece tenant of the proposed Deer Creek Shopping Center in Petaluma.

David Proctor, Friedman's chief financial officer, confirmed his company has submitted preliminary site drawings this week to Deer Creek's developer, detailing its vision for anchoring the site.

The move would serve several purposes, Proctor said. The Rohnert Park-based retailer has stores in Santa Rosa, Sonoma and Ukiah, but its only presence in Petaluma is a distribution center despite the fact that the chain started there in 1946.

Petaluma, meanwhile, currently has no home improvement warehouse store, leaving many residents frustrated.

"The Friedman family has always wanted to get back to its roots," he said. "We also believe it makes a lot of geographic sense."

Other suitors to take the spot in the 346,000-square foot development include Home Depot and Orchard Supply Hardware.

Marko Mlikotin, spokesman for developer Merlone Geier Partners of San Francisco, acknowledged Friedman's interest, but said the builder's foremost focus now is on getting long-awaited sign-off from the city of Petaluma.

"The most important thing at this time is to have project approval in hand so that we can have really substantive conversations with potential tenants," he said.

Petaluma Councilwoman Tiffany Renee said she was pleased by the prospect of Friedman's return. She said Petaluma loses significant tax revenues from not having a warehouse home improvement store.

An economic report prepared last year by the city counted $28.6 million in sales leakage on building materials and home furnishings spent by Petaluma residents in neighboring cities.

"It'd be great to see them return," she said.