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Basin Street proposes development for riverside property

A new, large, mixed-use development project with a 120-room hotel, situated next to the Petaluma River west of Highway 101, has been proposed by a major local developer.

Basin Street Properties, which developed Petaluma's Theatre District and owns many commercial properties around town, has been working with the city's contracted planners since it submitted a preliminary application in February. That application was to develop a 35.7-acre, riverfront parcel of land at the corner of Lakeville Highway and Highway 101.

Basin Street Properties started in Petaluma but is now based out of Reno, Nev. It has owned the vacant land that it has proposed developing for about 10 years and has previously tried to develop it — first as a 424-home project in 2005, and later as a mixture of high-end stores, a boutique hotel and residences. Neither of those proposals made it as far as a full public hearing, said Geoff Bradley, contract planning manager for Petaluma.

This latest version of the proposed development features what appears to be the most diverse array of uses for the land yet: a 120-room hotel, 30,000 square feet of retail space with about 100 apartments located above it, 60,000 square feet of office space, 40 townhomes — including five units where people can live and work — and 135 single-family homes. In addition, the plans include 6.5 acres of park land and space for a boat house to be used by the Petaluma Small Craft Center Coalition.

So far, the project has been undergoing a fiscal and economic impact analysis, which all commercial projects over 25,000 square feet must do.

One issue with the development is that there is currently only one road leading in and out of it — Caulfield Lane. The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit railroad tracks cross Caulfield lane near there, and some worry that if a train were to get stuck on the tracks residents might not have a way out. In addition, the city requires two points of access for emergencies.

Developers are considering with city planners using an emergency-only road that would start on the western edge of the property and end up at Hopper Street, which would then lead to D Street. In a report, the fire marshal expressed concern that the road may not be wide enough in places.

The analysis process is nearing completion, and the project should go before the City Council in the coming months, said Bradley. The council will not vote on the project, but rather hear the findings of the analysis. The environmental review process is expected to start soon.

Paul Andronico, senior vice president for Basin Street Properties, said that the company has been working closely with city staff to ensure that this version of the project will be a good fit for the city. He described this project as more diverse, and therefore better able to weather ups and downs in the economy.

"We went through a number of different iterations to arrive at where we are now," he said.

Responding to the question of why embark on such a large project in the sluggish economy, he said, "We're hoping that by the time we get through the entitlement process, the economy will be better."

(Contact Jamie Hansen at jamie.hansen@arguscourier.com)


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