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Rohnert Park looks for private operator for Highway 101 sign

  • 3/1/2009: B1: ROHNERT PARK: A suburban enclave of tract homes and big-box stores, Rohnert Park is best known for its alphabet-named, family-friendly neighborhoods and Highway 101 traffic. ``Rohnert Park is nice, it's just so contemporary,'' said Armando Estrada, a Rohnert Park resident who has lived in both cities. ``I'm sorry I ever left Cotati.''
    4/17/2003: B1: Rohnert Park's new digital billboard displays its message to northbound motorists caught in the afternoon commute Wednesday on Highway 101. While proponents welcome the revenue the sign is expected to generate for the Spreckels Performing Arts Center, critics say it will cause traffic jams on the busy freeway.
    PC: Rohnert Park's new electronic sign on the east side of Highway 101.

Rohnert Park has revived efforts to get a private operator for its Highway 101 digital advertising sign after an earlier attempt went nowhere.

City staff have recommended leasing the 10-year-old sign to longtime Sonoma County businessman Kirk Veale's Veale Investment Enterprises, which would tear it down and build a new one.

A short-lived deal with a Petaluma company, N2 Holdings -- which was supposed to lease and raze it and install a larger one -- was "terminated for nonperformance," City Manager Gabe Gonzalez said Monday.

The City Council is to consider the new proposal tonight.

N2 Holdings, whose representatives could not be reached for comment, was chosen over Veale's firm last year. But with N2's exit, Veale's bid this time won favor over one by Clear Channel Outdoor and a joint bid by Station Casinos and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, who are building a casino outside the city's northwest edge.

Veale's offer was considered the best because he has the most experience in the Sonoma County marketplace, said John McArthur, director of public works and community services, in a staff report.

"It's an opportunity for the city to create revenue," Gonzalez said.

Veale Enterprises wants to lease the sign for $180,000 a year plus 20 percent of annual net revenue over $900,000. It would also make a one-time payment of $50,000 plus $5,000 a month during construction.

The offer is based on using two sides of a new, single sign, rather than four sides of two new signs, which the Station Casinos' bid envisioned. That made Veale's offer the most remunerative, city staff said.

Veale's firm, if its offer is approved, would still have to submit its new sign to design and planning reviews and the permitting process.

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