Visions for Roseland Village project unveiled

Three preliminary designs for the long-awaited Roseland Village neighborhood development offer differing visions for a long-neglected former shopping center.|

Three preliminary designs for the long-awaited Roseland Village neighborhood development will be publicly released Monday, each a uniquely different stab at a vision of urban renewal that has been raising the hopes of a neglected community for nearly a decade.

All contain what Roseland has been wanting for some time: a plaza of some sort, a library and community center and mixed residential and commercial uses on the site of a former Albertsons supermarket. But the emphasis on each of these elements is what differentiates one proposal from the other.

One plan is centered around a large pedestrian plaza that contains a performance stage and is surrounded by a two-story community center, a library and large patches of common green space. A second would feature two smaller plazas and a long promenade connecting Sebastopol Road with the Joe Rodota Trail, while a third envisions an open-air “mercado” for retail shops and stalls for local artisanal food-making and production.

The details of each proposal will be available at on Monday.

“They all do an excellent job of reflecting the visioning process,” said Jim Leddy, special projects director for the Sonoma County Community Development Commission.

Leddy, who is working on the Roseland Village project, said each of the proposals stresses different elements of that vision. The online release of the three proposals Monday comes about 10 days in advance of a scheduled community forum on June 25, when the public will be given the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposals.

“It will be very intriguing to see how the community responds to the presentations,” he said.

The proposals were submitted in response to a request issued by the county Community Development Commission in early April. The three developers who responded, all affordable housing builders, were Santa Rosa’s Burbank Housing Development Corporation, MidPen Housing of Foster City and EAH Housing of San Rafael.

Burbank Housing’s proposal features a long plaza and pedestrian connector that links Sebastopol Road with the Joe Rodota Trail, 38,600 square feet of commercial space, 48 rent-restricted homes and 14 single-occupancy homes for extremely low-income, formerly homeless people.

MidPen’s proposal includes 100 units of permanently affordable housing for families and seniors, 100 market-rate units, a public plaza, connections to the trail and an open-air “mercado” that is expected to encourage entrepreneurship and serve as a center for neighborhood vendors.

The focal point of EAH’s proposal is a large plaza and patches of green space. The plan proposes 80 rental units for families making no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income.

“There is an incredible amount of excitement to see these potential concepts,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, whose 5th district includes the Roseland neighborhood.

Carrillo, who last week worked on a Spanish-language public service announcement for the project, said the county will now seek public input from Roseland residents to guide the development.

He said the public’s participation cannot be understated, because the site is key to the successful development of the entire Sebastopol Road corridor and its surrounding areas.

”The (Roseland Village) center itself has been seen as a significant investment in Roseland and to the future vitality of this entire community,” Carrillo said.

In 2011, the community development commission acquired the project property for $3.49 million using redevelopment housing funds. The site was formerly home to the Albertsons shopping center and Continental Lanes bowling alley. The only remaining tenant is the Dollar Tree store.

After the state Legislature killed redevelopment agencies across the state, the property was transferred to the county as a housing asset. The community development commission is currently conducting environmental cleanup at the site at a cost of about $1.17 million.

Another $5.4 million is earmarked for development of public improvements at the 6.9-acre site, including construction of a public plaza. That plaza is a central element of the 2007 Sebastopol Road Urban Vision Plan, which came out of extensive community input and envisions a pedestrian-oriented public space with a mix of commercial, office and multifamily housing uses.

Felix AuYeung, senior manager of business development for EAH Housing, said the urban vision plan provided strict parameters that guided EAH’s proposal.

“We’re approaching this project really trying to fulfill the community’s goals,” AuYeung said. “The Sonoma County CDC made it clear they have particular things that they want to see in the particular site. Our goal is to work with the community and to partner with them and to deliver what they want.”

Nur Kausar, real estate development analyst with EAH, said the goal was to create a town center.

“That was kind of what we were going for, giving new life to the heart of Roseland,” she said.

Representatives of Burbank Housing and MidPen could not be reached for comment about their proposals.

The June 25 public meeting to discuss the proposals will be held at 6 p.m. at Roseland Accelerated Middle School on West Avenue. Leddy, of the community development commission, said the forum will give the public the opportunity to speak with the developers “one on one.”

The developers will then give a presentation on their proposals, followed by a question-and-answer session for members of the audience.

“We really have reserved most of the time that evening for questions from the public,” Leddy said.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or On Twitter @renofish.

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