Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

What is the Latest on the Downtown?

On November 22, 2022, the City Council approved initial concepts for the property. The concepts divide the property into four sections, plus a park. The sections include:

  • Retail focused, between 80,000 and 150,000 square feet of retail space. For comparison, an average mobile phone provider store is 4,000 square feet while a larger “big box” store is 140,000 square feet.
  • Market rate residential focused. This will include a mix of townhouses and apartments.
  • Affordable housing. We are projecting 15% to 25% of the total number of housing units will be affordable. We expect to have between 450 and 500 units.
  • Hotel and hospitality 

What is "Backbone Infrastructure"?

City infrastructure generally includes the following:

  • city streets (pavement sections, pavement markings, curbs, gutters and sidewalks)
  • traffic control devices
  • storm drains
  • sanitary sewers
  • water lines
  • electrical grids
  • telecommunication lines

The City Council approved designing and building major pieces of infrastructure, which include:

  • One street running north to south through the property, and another running east to west. There will be more streets in the final detailed plans.
  • Underground utilities along these streets.
  • A pedestrian crossing with traffic lights between the site and the library.
  • Parking and an entrance to the property along Rohnert Park Expressway.
  • Demolition and recycling of the existing building foundation and parking lots.
  • Measures to control stormwater.

Why didn't we present a finalized plan?

Our initial goal was to present a draft plan in November 2022; however, our past six months of planning led us to the conclusion that if the City constructs the backbone infrastructure, it will be a key catalyst to move the project forward. This will make the project site more attractive to potential developers and more marketable for sale. Additionally, constructing the infrastructure gives the City flexibility on the architecture and final layout

Why Did You Break The Property Into Sections?

The sections illustrated in the map will not be fenced in. The map is a guide for us and future developers, but here is the reasoning behind the location of the parcels:
Affordable Housing
. By placing the affordable housing parcel adjacent to the SMART train, we are able to further finance our downtown project without relying on raising taxes. Rather, we can use the state’s money to finance the affordable housing. We can do this through something called Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities grant, which integrates affordable homes with public transit (SMART, bus) or active (walking, biking) transportation.

Hotel. Though it may seem Rohnert Park does not need an additional hotel, there are benefits to having another hotel at the downtown property. Tourism supports the local economy by increasing the money spent at nearby stores and other attractions and generating taxes from visitors. Having the hotel next to the train station allows visitors to take the SMART train from Sonoma County Airport or the Bay Area, thereby reducing the traffic.

Retail Focused. This will still be a mixed-use project, with the potential of having housing over retail establishments, should a developer choose to do that. The northwest section was ideal for retail as it provides easy access.  Having the retail at the northern end of the property also puts it close to the Library, Public Safety, City Center Plaza, and retail establishments to the north and west.

Market Rate Housing Focused. Market rate housing helps pay for the affordable housing and the retail establishments. Placing the market rate housing to the south moved prospective residents away from Rohnert Park Expressway vehicle noise while still being close to the downtown retail and the SMART train.  It also is a good transition to existing residential neighborhoods.

Where Are the Streets, Parks, and Amenities?

There are likely to be more parks and green area on the property; we don’t know where or what that is going to look like just yet. There have been several concepts having a north-south green path linking the downtown community square with the southern park and an east-west community square with a smaller green space in the middle.

Streets and other amenities are illustrated here to help us start the infrastructure. 

How Many Affordable Housing Units Will There Be?

We do not have a final amount of affordable housing, but we are projecting between 15% and 25% of the housing units will be affordable. We anticipate between 400 and 500 total housing units. That puts the number of affordable homes at 100 to 125.

Are You Going to Raise Taxes to Pay for This?

There are no plans to raise taxes to pay for this project. We are using City funds from existing sources, and plan to also use loans, grants, and proceeds from selling parcels to developers. We are able to use past City tax dollars through planning and our careful use of City tax dollars. 

Creating a downtown has been among the community's highest priority for years. 

Why Hasn’t The Project Happened Yet?

The City bought this property to accelerate development of a downtown. While the prior owner proposed - and the City approved – an attractive project, they did not build it because it was not economically feasible.  This major infrastructure project is only the first step, but a very important one. The City has owned the property for about six months; these types of projects can take twenty years to complete – we are looking to move much more quickly.