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'Museum on Square' developer strikes parking deal with City Hall

The developer of the proposed Museum on the Square project in downtown Santa Rosa has worked a deal with City Hall that would allow tenants to drive through the city's bus-only transit mall.

The city will grant an easement through the mall for tenants to park in or beside the 10-story, glass-clad mixed-use tower planned on the site of the long-vacant former AT&T building.

City transit staff had balked at the request by developers Hugh Futrell and Bill Carle. They worried about pedestrian safety within the mall, which currently is accessible only to city and regional buses, and of potential conflicts between buses and vehicles in the confined space.

But the council late last year instructed city staff to make it work, and they did.

The arrangement retains the seven spaces of bus parking within the mall. It also requires that the parking gate to the building lot be set back 18-feet from the sidewalk so cars don't block the sidewalk as they wait to enter. Flashing lights and an alarm will go off when a car is leaving the lot to warn pedestrians, Frank Kasimov, program specialist in the city economic development department, told the council.

Hugh Futrell has said allowing parking access on the south side of the building was an important way to increase the leasable space on the ground floor, making the project more financially viable. The other, more expensive option was to tunnel a driveway through the building from Third Street.

The city has agreed to sell the building to Futrell at a loss to eliminate the windowless eyesore. A potential building tenant, software firm Metier Ltd., pulled out of the project earlier this year but Futrell has said he is confident of signing another significant commercial tenant.

The deal calls for the residents of the project to be able to purchase a total of 100 parking passes in city garages. Both items passed the council unanimously.


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