Demolition nears completion to make way for new 8-story apartment building in downtown Santa Rosa

Demolition work neared completion Monday at the site of one of the few large-scale housing developments to move forward in recent years to bring more vibrancy to Santa Rosa’s downtown core.|

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story contained outdated information regarding the project, which will be eight stories.

Demolition work neared completion Monday at the site of one of the few large-scale housing developments to move forward in recent years in Santa Rosa’s downtown core.

A new eight-story, 168-unit mixed-use apartment building will be constructed at 420 Mendocino Ave., a half-acre site between Fifth and Seventh streets that has housed various retail spaces over the years, including used Lego store The Brick Hutt, a yoga studio and a recycled vintage decor shop.

Zach Berkowitz, who owns the neighboring commercial property at 404 Mendocino Ave., joined Ed Khakbaz, the owner of 420 Mendocino Ave., in an effort to attract more people downtown by building dense housing.

“We need people downtown spending their money,” Berkowitz said Monday.

“There’s quite a bit of affordable housing, yes, but there’s no market rate housing — and Santa Rosa needs a blend of both.”

Berkowitz said the market-rate apartments will be “affordable by design,” a term coined by the project’s architect David Baker Architects, meaning the units in the building will be smaller and consist of mostly studio and one-bedroom apartments.

David Baker Architects was the principal architect on Hotel Healdsburg, the Harmon Guest House and H2Hotel, all in Healdsburg.

There will be a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units, along with close to 100 on-site parking spaces. The ground floor is set to include a new restaurant — the building that formerly housed restaurant Gary Chu’s on the corner of Fifth and Riley streets will be demolished starting Thursday, according to Berkowitz — and a co-working lounge. A fitness center will be located on the second floor, while the top floor will feature an outdoor roof terrace.

The project is slated to be completed by the second quarter of 2025.

Early plans had anticipated the building to be modular, which meant units would come prefabricated and stacked together, but that’s no longer the case.

Further planning with David Baker Architects found that style wouldn’t work for this development, and that freed up space to add another floor and more units.

The project was initially approved in 2018 but was on hold as developers finalized financing details.

“Ed and I were looking for a first-class development partner to take our project from the entitled stage to completion,” Berkowitz said.

That’s when Related California, a San Francisco-based real estate firm, came into the project.

“We were incredibly fortunate to partner with Related California,” Berkowitz said. “Their vast expertise and strong track record of great multifamily projects is unmatched.”

Related California is California's largest mixed-income developer and has developed more than 19,500 housing units in California, according to the company’s website.

“To have them come to Santa Rosa is a huge deal,” Berkowitz said.

Related California is also developing — alongside Santa Rosa-based Burbank Housing — a total of 400 affordable senior apartments and market rate units in a project further down Mendocino Avenue, at the site of the former Journey’s End site.

On the 420 Mendocino Ave. project, Related California has been working with the city of Santa Rosa, RED Housing Fund and other financial partners on the project, Vice President Matt Keipper said in a statement to The Press Democrat on Monday.

A total cost for the project was not immediately available.

“We commenced site work last week immediately following the closing of construction financing, and completion is projected for mid-2025,” Keipper said.

Jesse Oswald, chief building official with the city of Santa Rosa, said the city is doing its standard due diligence and review for the development, which was initially approved in 2018.

“We are in constant communication with the development team and there are no significant hurdles foreseen,” Oswald said in a statement.

Berkowitz said this development is a win for Santa Rosa and it will get more people to once again spend more time downtown.

“From the engineering to the planning, the city has been very, very good to work with,” Berkowitz said. “We need people downtown and things will happen once there are people here, no question about it.”

You can reach Staff Writer Sara Edwards at 707-521-5487 or sara.edwards@pressdemocrat. com. On Twitter @sedwards380.

Sara Edwards

Business reporter

Small businesses are the bread and butter of Sonoma County. I cover a diverse group: Chambers of commerce and business groups, clothing shops, jewelry boutiques, hobby stores and more. Economic uncertainty is a high concern among Sonoma County consumers, and it’s my job to make sure shoppers know what’s happening in the local economy and how those trends and issues impact them.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.