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Three alternatives

Take a closer look at three alternative plans under consideration by Santa Rosa to develop a vacant strip of land in the southeast quadrant of the city. Click here for details on each of the proposals.

Three visions for how a 57-acre ribbon of land in Santa Rosa should be developed are coming into focus, with key differences in the plans over the amount of property dedicated to new housing and commercial uses.

The latest conceptual plans for the Southeast Greenway range from a minimalist design that emphasizes environmental restoration, bike paths and urban agriculture to one that encourages more intensive development, including turning 17 acres over to four-story apartments, rows of townhomes, a hotel, retail spaces and a cafe.

The proposals, which are the result of two community workshops attended by hundreds of residents, head to a joint meeting of the Santa Rosa City Council and Planning Commission this afternoon. The study session is set to begin at 3 p.m. in the City Council chambers.

The feedback will help city staff determine land-uses the city assigns when it updates its general plan for the area. That will help prepare the property for acquisition from Caltrans, which once planned to extend Highway 12 across the right-of-way but now has abandoned the idea.

“It’s exciting to look at the options for 57 acres of land in Santa Rosa,” said Lisa Kranz, supervising planner for the city.

All three plans have similarities, including a multi-use path linking Farmer’s Lane in the west to Spring Lake Regional Park in the east, creek restorations, housing, and a commercial uses along Farmer’s Lane.

There are significant differences among the plans, however, ones that could affect the intensity of development and types of uses along the greenway and the economic viability of the project.

The lowest-impact alternative, referred to as “Minimal Footprint,” focuses on the preservation and restoration of open space. Other uses include urban agriculture, such as community gardens, and active recreation, such as ballfields along Yulupa Avenue.

Under this scenario, all the commercial development would be concentrated on a single, triangular shaped parcel along Hoen Avenue at the western end of the greenway. The option calls for the most open space, 46 acres, and the least housing, 75 units.

An analysis of this concept written by the planning firm PlaceWorks, however, questions the appropriateness of some of the urban agricultural uses for a greenway, and notes they don’t generate much revenue. The report concludes this option “would likely leave the City of Santa Rosa with a long-term drain on its general fund resources” unless nonprofits agreed or other agencies partnered on maintenance.

A more intensely developed option, referred to as “Active to Tranquil,” calls for more development at the western end of the property, tapering to less development the closer one gets to Spring Lake Regional Park.

A big difference is the designation of a 3-acre parcel for a hotel at the intersection of Hoen Avenue and Farmer’s Lane. Neighboring properties would be designated for mixed-use and three- to four-story attached housing. The northern side of the greenway between Franquette and Yulupa avenues would also be developed into townhomes. In total, 40 acres would be open space and 150 housing units would be constructed under this concept.

The consultant’s analysis cites many upsides to this more intensive development approach. “Private development can pay market land prices, reducing the amount of public money that needs to be raised to implement the highest priority pedestrian/bike features of the greenway,” the report notes.

Three alternatives

Take a closer look at three alternative plans under consideration by Santa Rosa to develop a vacant strip of land in the southeast quadrant of the city. Click here for details on each of the proposals.

The report goes on to cite the benefits to the city’s tax base and annual budget, as well as how many different uses “helps to knit the urban fabric together.”

The third plan is referred to as “Nodes of Activity” and differs from the other two by clustering the activity around the intersections. In addition to a large chunk of mixed-use at Farmer’s Lane, the three- to- four-story apartments are located at Franquette Avenue, the mixed-use around Yulupa Avenue, and housing and a cafe would be located at Summerfield Road. It is the only one of the three concepts proposing housing and retail along Summerfield Road. This plan calls for 44 acres of open space and 120 units of housing.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 707-521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @srcitybeat.

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