Long-conceptualized plans for a downtown Petaluma boutique hotel are slated to move forward in the new year, according to a member of the project’s team.

Plans for the five-story Petaluman Hotel at the corner of Petaluma Boulevard South and B Street include 68 rooms, a conference room, restaurant and retail space as well as off-site parking. The project, fronted by Petaluma developer and architect Ross Jones, has taken several forms since an application for a hotel was first submitted to the city in 2010, spokesman and local civil engineer Dave Alden said.

Major hurdles such as parking and a cleanup of the vacant lot that once housed a Chevron gas station have stalled the 50,000 square-foot hotel project, Alden said. Last year, the team considered changing course toward apartments, but revived the initial concept after members of the public expressed a greater interest in a hotel.

“The hotel is moving ahead slowly, but it’s moving ahead,” Alden said.

The team will need to undergo a public Planning Commission hearing to obtain necessary zoning code amendments, design approvals and permits before breaking ground. The project, which is located on land that’s been owned by Jones’ family since the 1960s, would take about a year to construct once approvals are granted, Alden said.

Several meetings have been held through the years to discuss the project with residents and area business owners, who have largely offered positive feedback, Alden said.

Specifics, such as total project costs, the location of a parking lot and the number of jobs the hotel will create were not yet available. The project team is meeting in coming weeks to hammer out details and network with potential investors, Alden said.

Room pricing will be comparable to the nearby Sheraton Sonoma County – Petaluma, Alden said. During a weekend in mid-January, a standard room with a king-size bed at the Sheraton is available for $165 nightly, according to its booking website.

Seven hotels already operate in the city limits and several others, including a 122-room hotel at the 35-acre Riverfront property at 500 Hopper St. and a 75-room Hampton Inn in the former Silk Mill building at 450 Jefferson St. are in the pipeline. Despite that, Alden said The Petaluman would be a unique asset with the capacity to capture a different share of the market and act as a boon for the downtown economy.

“It puts a lot of people on the streets walking in downtown because they want to be downtown, they want to experience downtown and they want to shop and eat and they want to enjoy what makes Petaluma special,” he said. “That’s got to be good for downtown. Any downtown is better when there are people on the street for more hours a day.”

The project comes as the city is contemplating asking voters to approve an increase in the 10 percent transient occupancy tax charged on hotel stays in the city. Early estimates based on project plans for a 54-room hotel showed the project could funnel an additional $250,000 and $300,000 in taxes into the city’s coffers, though more recent figures based on the larger project weren’t available.

(Contact Hannah Beausang at hannah.beausang@arguscourier.com.)