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Petaluma construction projects taking shape

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As construction season ramps up, several high profile Petaluma developments are breaking ground or finishing this spring, adding hundreds of housing units and hotel rooms to the city.

The project closest to completion is a new 75-room Hampton Inn at the renovated Silk Mill building on Lakeville Street. Perry Patel, a partner with the hotel’s Palo Alto-based developer, BPR Properties, said the interior is complete and crews are putting the finishing touches on the parking lots and doing the landscaping.

He said he expects the hotel to open in June, and the website is currently accepting reservations for July 1, though the exterior still resembles a construction site. Several announced opening dates, including last fall and this February, have passed while construction on the much anticipated hotel continues.

The brick building, built in 1892, was designated a national historic landmark in 1986.

“As soon as we flip the switch, occupancy will ramp up immediately,” Patel said. “Demand is going to be high.”

The developer had most recently expected the hotel to open in May and the Hampton Inn was accepting reservations for early June, but those had to be canceled when it became clear the property would not be ready to open in time.

Two other projects have just broken ground at the other end of Petaluma — the 200-home Brody Ranch project on Sonoma Mountain Parkway and a development at the adjacent Corona Road property.

Concord-based DeNova Homes is developing the 16-acre Brody Ranch subdivision of for-sale homes just north of a potential future east side SMART station. It will include 61-single family homes and nine condominium buildings with a total of 138 multi-family units, at a time when the city is struggling with a housing shortage. Lots have been graded and work has started on installing utilities on the property.

Just south of the train tracks, work has begun to clear a lot at the corner of Corona Road and North McDowell Boulevard for a future 100-unit housing project at a spot long planned for a future SMART station. The developer, Lomas Partners, is currently involved in a lawsuit with SMART after a deal fell apart that would have traded a SMART-owned downtown property for a Corona Road station and parking structure.

Todd Kurtin, the principal with Lomas Partners, said he is moving forward with the housing part of the project, and hopes to still include the SMART station if Lomas and SMART settle the lawsuit.

“All I keep hearing is how much there is a need for housing in Petaluma,” he said. “We will provide affordable housing on site.”

Workers are currently demolishing old buildings on the site that most recently served as storage for delivery trucks. The next phase will be clearing the property of contaminated soil, a process that should take a month, he said.

“The cleanup is not as onerous as people thought,” he said. “Only a small part of the property is contaminated.”

Once a regional water board signs off on the cleanup, Kurtin said he would seek city approval to build townhomes and single family houses on the lot. He hopes to start construction next year. While he is still finalizing the design of the development, Kurtin said he plans to leave part of the development vacant for now, in anticipation of building a 150-space parking lot next to a future SMART station.

The deal with SMART would have given Lomas rights to develop the property adjacent to the downtown SMART station. Kurtin said he had plans for a mixed-use development ready to submit to the city.

In the lawsuit, Lomas claims SMART unilaterally canceled the deal in bad faith. SMART claims the deal collapsed because Lomas did not deliver plans for the promised parking structure, including moving the location and altering it to a surface parking lot.

Other developments wrapping up construction this year include the 90-unit Marina Apartments at the Petaluma Marina, and the Altura Apartments on Baywood Drive. The 150-unit complex will include 23 affordable apartments. The Reliant Group, the developer, earlier this year cut down oak trees on the property without a permit, drawing the ire of neighbors.

Work continues at the Riverfront development at Hopper Street and Highway 101 along the Petaluma River, despite a change in developers. Comstock Homes is in the process of selling the 273-residential-unit project to another developer as it continues doing the utility work on the property.

Meanwhile a 122-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel is poised to break ground this summer in the Riverfront development.

(Contact Matt Brown at matt.brown@arguscourier.com.)