A Petaluma architect hopes to bring his plan for the city's first luxury hotel to city planners this spring.

Ross Jones hopes to build a four-story, 50-room boutique hotel at Petaluma Boulevard South and B Street, property his family has owned since 1963.

Initially proposed three years ago, the project was put on hold until being refined into Jones' newest plan for an upscale hotel. It is in the design stage now, he said, and he hopes to seek planners' approval soon with construction tentatively set to being next year.

In 2010, Jones discussed an agritourism-focused hotel, with a potential rooftop garden that could possibly include live animals. Previous plans for the property, which used to be home to a Chevron gas station, included condominiums above retail stores and a senior housing development.

But Jones said the boutique hotel, yet to be officially named, could "transform a prime, empty corner lot" in the heart of downtown.

The location is just steps from the Theatre District, downtown restaurants and the river.

City leaders have been calling for additional hotels in Petaluma so the city can attract more overnight visitors and capitalize on the hotel tax and tourist dollars.

Councilwoman Teresa Barrett said she likes the idea of a downtown hotel.

"Especially &‘unique' hotels that are not just another link of a chain and that don't give the patrons, or for that matter, the neighborhood, a sense of place," she said. "I believe Mr. Jones' first hotel wanted to provide a sense of destination, and I hope that is what he continues to propose."

"There is nothing sterile about his design," said Monica Binsfeld of Petaluma-based Ecco Mi Design. She is overseeing the building color and materials to be used.

"Ross is a playful, thoughtful architect, and his healthy, lasting hotel design will speak to all generations of Petalumans," Binsfeld said. "He is considering every little detail."

Jones said he plans to emphasize regional art and designs "with unprecedented use of environmentally friendly materials."

He said the project will cost between $10 million and $15 million.

The rooftop garden idea remains, along with street level meeting rooms and a guest lounge with light food and drink. He described the design as "sophisticated, elegant, urban and fun."

It will be designed for business travelers, weekend adventurers, local events and weddings. Each of the 50 rooms will be different, and Jones said he plans to offer valet parking.

Its "blend of urban/farm country ambiance will provide an upscale meeting spot for the community," he said.

Piazza Hospitality Group, managers of the h2 Hotel in Healdsburg, will manage it. Staff will have knowledge of Petaluma, the surrounding area and ecological farming practices, Jones said.

(You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.)

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