An ambitious plan to transform a vacant Railroad Square lot into an $85 million mixed-use transit village gets its first public airing this week.

Silicon Valley-based developer ROEM will outline its project for a joint committee of the Santa Rosa City Council and the board of directors of Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, which owns the 5.4-acre property.

The Monday meeting, from 9 to 11 a.m., will be held at the Santa Rosa City Council chambers.

Expectations for the project, which is called Water Tower Plaza Apartments, are high.

“I’m anxious to hear how this developer plans to make the highest and best use of that site, which we’ve talked about as the crown jewel of the SMART system for years,” said Santa Rosa City Councilman Chris Coursey, who is on the committee.

The development firm wants to build 268 apartments, a food and wine center and a public plaza on property just west of Santa Rosa’s future downtown rail station.

The proposal is similar to the one that, after years of anticipation and political debate, fell apart during the recession.

The new plan came forward after SMART officials conducted a nearly yearlong search for a developer willing to tackle the project. ROEM was the only firm to make it through the selection process.

The other finalist, The Wolff Co. of Scottsdale, Ariz., pulled out of the running, citing concern about the uncertainty about how much affordable housing the project would need.

The Santa Clara-based ROEM has constructed over 3,000 units in more than 30 developments around the state since 2000. Officials for the company have said the cooperation between government agencies and high interest in transit-oriented developments makes this the “perfect window of opportunity” for the project to move forward.

The project is seen as key to the city’s revitalization efforts and to driving ridership on the SMART train, which is expected to begin service between Santa Rosa and San Rafael by the end of the year.

If embraced by the joint committee and community, the project could get under construction as early as next summer and would take about two years to complete.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or On Twitter @srcitybeat.

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