Plan unveiled for seven-story apartment building in downtown Santa Rosa
For decades Santa Rosa has sought to attract dense, higher-rise housing to its downtown, and it may have its largest project yet in a new plan to transform a long-vacant office building into a seven-story tower with more than 100 apartments overlooking Old Courthouse Square.
1 Santa Rosa, named after its address on Santa Rosa Avenue at the corner of Third Street, would create 120 mostly market-rate apartments steps away from the buses that run through the downtown transit mall and within walking distance of the Railroad Square rail station.
The roughly $50 million project’s walk-or-bike-first mentality is underscored by the absence of on-site parking. Instead, a proposed 90-space parking agreement would allow residents to leave their vehicles in a nearby city-owned garage.
“There’s a window of opportunity to put in housing,” said Marty Winter, a Marin County resident and investor with property across the Bay Area who has owned the site for decades.
“I know that Sonoma County is in dire need of housing, what with the fires, etcetera,” Winter said. “The need has been there, but now the county and the city is addressing that need. ... I sense that the city is very much looking forward to new housing.”
The proposal envisions a ground-floor cafe, courtyard space for residents and a rooftop bar.
Its design intends to create an “interesting pedestrian-level experience,” according to documents filed with the city.
Plans call for the top five floors to be built by modular construction, in which prefabricated units are stacked to create a single structure.
The focus on housing at the site has been consistent as other elements such as height, layout and parking arrangements have evolved in the conceptual phase, said David Guhin, an assistant city manager focused on planning and economic development.
Of the various potential redevelopments on the property over the years, this project has materialized with the greatest detail to date, he said.
“This is the first developer that’s worked with the owner, has a plan, something that’s been put together and made it this far,” Guhin said. “This really is probably the most viable that we’ve seen.”
Winter, a former mayor of Belvedere in Marin County, is working with developer Keith Rogal of Napa, the founder of what is now the Carneros Resort and Spa in Napa and developer of a long-running project at the former Napa Pipe site.
Dan Hirsch, an investment firm consultant who owns a home in Sebastopol, and Jack Robertson of San Rafael-based Tableau Development Co., also are involved in the 1 Santa Rosa development.
Working in Santa Rosa is a welcome change of scenery for Rogal, who credited Guhin and city planners for their efforts to create a developer-friendly environment downtown. He also noted working on a vacant building in Santa Rosa’s core offered an opportunity to add housing without displacing any tenants.
“You would just end up with a better and more interesting city, and city leadership was really standing out as exceptional across the whole state in terms of their focus trying to make that happen in a healthy way,” Rogal said.
Rogal said the project’s “all-in” cost is estimated to be just shy of $50 million and noted that the rent in the upscale building would be dictated by market forces. After the planning process and more than a year of construction, the new building is estimated to be complete in fall 2022, he said.