More stores opening at new shopping center

With all but five spaces leased, new businesses continue to open at the largest shopping center in Petaluma, East Washington Place.

In late May, Sprouts Farmers Market became the first to open in the 341,000-plus square foot space on East Washington Street near Highway 101, quickly followed by Dick's Sporting Goods, then TJ Maxx/ Homegoods, and in late July, Target.

The Cheese Steak Shop is scheduled to open today. It specializes in what you'd imagine — Philadelphia-style cheese steak sandwiches.

Also open are Ulta cosmetics, Bev-Mo, Sleep Train Depot, H&R Block, Sprint PCS, Panera Bread and Chipotle.

On Tuesday, the sounds of construction could be heard at the future home of the sports bar Buffalo Wild Wings, while not far away, music played at Five Guys Burgers & Fries, which opened last month.

Awaiting their lunch, customers discussed their experience at the new shopping center.

"So far, so good," said Brian Wing, a Rohnert Park resident and Calix employee. He was eating lunch at Five Guys after purchasing a birthday card at Target and a gift at BevMo. He said he found it difficult to access the shopping center given current construction, but that he was glad to have the stores in town.

Petaluma resident Sue Hill was eating at Five Guys with her son. She said she has enjoyed having Target, Dicks Sporting Goods and T.J. Maxx close by so that she does not have to drive to Rohnert Park or Novato, but lamented the additional traffic. An east side resident, she drives her children to sports practice on the west side of town, and she says that since the shopping center opened, the commute has gotten about 10 minutes longer. She often drives north and crosses Highway 101 on Corona Road to avoid the backup.

"I'm definitely going to spend more money here in town (as a result of the shopping center)," she said, but added that she hoped Petaluma's small town feel wouldn't go away.

Many stores at the shopping center are still under construction and expected to open in the coming weeks and months.

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