East side housing project under construction

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Work started last week to add utilities for a future east Petaluma development of 34 residential units that will help ease the pent up demand for more housing in the city.

The site, on North McDowell Boulevard, was graded last summer, but sat dormant until workers began laying water and sewer pipes last week.

The Santa Rosa-based Hugh Futrell Corporation is building the homes that will range from 1,118 square feet to 1,226 square feet. Eight of the units will be single-family homes, and there will be 13 duplexes. The units will have two and three bedrooms.

The development, known as North McDowell Commons, will also have an outdoor recreation space and a playground, according to the company’s website.

Hugh Futrell, president of Hugh Futrell Corporation, said construction will begin next month, and the homes are expected to be finished by the end of the year.

“We’re under construction again with site improvements,” Futrell.

The new construction comes at a time when Petaluma, and other communities around the state, are dealing with a housing shortage that has put upward pressure on rents and home prices. Occupancy rates in Petaluma hover around 99 percent.

“It’s clear that the need for housing is very intense,” Futrell said. “Our timing is good for this project.”

The new houses will help Petaluma address the housing crisis, said City Councilman Gabe Kearney.

“There’s a huge need for housing with really low inventory,” he said. “There’s very little places where we can built except for infill.”

The houses will be rented at market rate, but Kearney said there still is a need for affordable housing in Petaluma.

Part of the development will include the preservation of a historic farmhouse known as the Hansen House, which was designated by the city as a landmark in 2013.

The Hansen House was built in 1906 by Danish immigrants Hans and Anna Marie Hansen. Upon settling in Petaluma, the couple purchased 23 acres of land on North McDowell for a chicken ranch, which was, at that time, on the outskirts of town. The house once served as a de facto community center for Danish immigrants, but has since sat neglected along the roadside.

Beyond years of disregard, mysterious fires have threatened the structure, along with an attempt of a previous developer to have the building demolished.

The house will be restored and become part of the new housing development, according to Futrell.

“The long-term objective is to sell it,” he said of the historic house.

(Contact Matt Brown at matt.brown@arguscou rier.com. On Twitter @MattBrownAC.)

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