The Cotati City Council has agreed to sell land along Highway 101 to a Sonoma County family for nearly $2.4 million in order to develop a 152-room hotel.

The council last week entered into a development agreement for land now used as a Caltrans park-and-ride lot by the freeway at Highway 116, near the city’s northern boundary with Rohnert Park. Ken Molinaro, managing member of Cotati Hotel LLC, said his family plans to build a Reverb hotel, a new brand of the Hard Rock Cafe International hotel and restaurant chain.

“Our goal is to create something that my family can be proud of,” Molinaro said.

The development agreement is the first step in a public process that still requires environmental reviews and permit approvals, Cotati City Manager Damien O’Bid said in an email.

The city projects the hotel will be open by June 2021. Molinaro said he hopes to open in late 2019.

As part of the development, the city will place the $2,375,000 it receives from Molinaro into an escrow account, O’Bid said. The city will use those proceeds to fund the design and construction of more commuter parking on state property along Airport Boulevard north of Santa Rosa and at an existing park-and-ride lot on Petaluma Boulevard South in Petaluma.

Cotati will pay to build 136 new parking spaces at those two locations, O’Bid said. Also, the city will retain 36 spaces at the current location.

Molinaro grew up in Sonoma County. He said he has done real estate development for over 30 years, including 20 years building resorts and hotels in Mexico.

His company will be among the first to sign a franchise agreement for a Reverb hotel. “Everybody in the world knows Hard Rock,” he said in regard to the business opportunity.

This hotel project will have a special meaning, he said, because “I consider Santa Rosa to be my hometown.”

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 707-521-5285 or On Twitter @rdigit.