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Proposed downtown hotel heads to planning department sans parking plan

The design for a proposed 54-room boutique Petaluman Hotel has a rooftop garden and a sunken cave bar, five wellness rooms and a swanky suite, a solar installation and a massive metal sculpture. But the one thing it doesn't have is parking.

"We're going to submit this without a parking plan, but we're working on one," said Dave Alden, a civil engineer who is consulting with hotel developer Ross Jones.

Plans for the Petaluman Hotel were submitted to the city's planning department on Oct. 31, but it will be several months before the public has an opportunity to comment on the project because city staff gets first crack at reviewing it. Heather Hines, deputy planning manager for the City of Petaluma, said that the process begins with a 30 day "completeness review" in which various city departments examine the application and ensure it has all the information needed to effectively evaluate the development and its impacts.

Hines said one of the gapping holes left to fill is the question of where hotel guests will park in the bustling downtown district. The size of the hotel requires 55 dedicated parking spaces according to city code, but the site at the corner of Petaluma Boulevard South and B Street is not large enough to house a parking structure in addition to the 14,000-square-foot hotel.

"We're looking into some type of valet service," Alden said, adding that they have considered using the Keller Street Garage as a possible solution.

Another hurdle will come in the height of the building. At four-stories and 50 feet, the hotel is currently 5 feet taller than the city's 45-foot maximum height limit. It will need an exemption from the city's zoning ordinance before the project can move forward.

Developed by Petaluma architect Ross Jones, whose family has owned the land since the 1960s, the $18 million Petaluman Hotel is expected to raise $250,000 a year in transit occupancy tax for the city, assuming a 70 percent occupancy rate and an average room price of $200 a night. Alden said it fills a needed niche in Petaluma's marketplace as the only boutique hotel in town, as well as being the only one with direct access to the historic district.

Hines said the City Council will require an economic impact report that considers both the financial promise and potential pitfalls of the project, such as how it will impact surrounding businesses, parking and traffic.

"It will look at what other hotels we have, and if there is a demand for this in the market," she said.

Using a variety of green building materials, the project seeks to be as sustainable as possible, with a rooftop garden and solar panels, and plans to harness wind-power as well. Five specially designed wellness rooms feature an allergen-free environment enhanced with aromatherapy and chromatherapy bath and shower options for those recuperating from a medical procedure.


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