Santa Rosa council advances downtown apartment project, overriding concerns on height

The Santa Rosa City Council has given its blessing to a 24-unit, five-story apartment and office project downtown that a lower city panel had rejected out of concern that it was too tall.

The Flats project, slated for 528 B Street, site of an existing one-story office building, secured the council’s unanimous approval Tuesday.

The developers had appealed a denial by the Cultural Heritage Board, which is made up of volunteers appointed by the City Council. The panel had determined the project was too tall for the surrounding historic St. Rose neighborhood.

Councilman John Sawyer called the council’s override a “watershed event” — evidence that Santa Rosa officials’ frequent refrain that they are amenable to new housing, especially downtown, is not mere lip service.

“Make no mistake, I think that those that are watching what happens tonight — that are interested in quality evolution of our downtown — are watching very closely to see if our council is as devoted to that quality evolution as we have been verbalizing for years now,” Sawyer said.

The project, with an estimated cost of up $12 million, includes a ground floor of commercial space and four floors with two dozen market-rate one- and two-bedroom apartments. Plans call for breaking ground in late spring or early summer, with construction finished roughly 14 months later.

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