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Second Petaluma SMART station again delayed after funding falls through

The quest to build another Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit station has again been set back, as officials confirmed this week that a development partnership’s state grant application was denied.

The Petaluma City Council in May authorized a grant application for a public-private partnership between SMART and an affordable housing developer to seek up to $30 million from California’s Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities program. Along with helping develop housing along the corridor, the money would have guaranteed the long-sought second Petaluma train station train station at Corona Road on the city’s east side. The station is expected to cost at least $12 million.

SMART officials said the application fell through due to high competition with “larger urban areas that have more transit and more frequent service.”

“However, we remain very committed to working with our partners, the City of Petaluma, and the developer, Danco in pursuing several upcoming funding opportunities,” SMART spokesperson Matt Stevens said in a Thursday email.

The setback comes as Arcata-based housing developer Danco Group continues efforts to build affordable housing next to the proposed train stop, after plans for a single-family development at the six-acre property were thrown out amid a lawsuit filed in April 2020.

The proposed development entails 131 affordable housing units, including 33 supportive housing units, within multiple three- and four-story buildings.

Supervisor David Rabbitt, who is a member of the SMART board of directors, said he was hoping this project would be a replication of a similar one in Santa Rosa, after SMART secured $25 million in state funds in 2020 to expand transit in the Roseland Village Center, which included the addition of 75 affordable housing units.

“It’s obviously disappointing,” Rabbitt said in a Monday phone interview. “It’s still a little premature but we’re trying to go and reach far and wide to see what we can do to get the station up and running.”

Petaluma Mayor Teresa Barrett said, moving forward, it’s a possibility that the SMART station could be installed as a standalone project before funding is secured for an affordable housing site, but that would ultimately be decided by the Danco Group.

“They could go separately, but I think it’s in the interest of everybody to push that together as a married project,” Barrett said.

Chris Dart, President of the Danco Group, did not respond to phone messages or emails seeking comment.

Amelia Parreira is a staff writer for the Argus-Courier. She can be reached at amelia.parreira@arguscourier.com or 707-521-5208.

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