31 apartments proposed on First Street East in Sonoma

A new Sonoma Valley-based company is proposing a plan to demolish the commercial buildings at 254 First St. E. in Sonoma to build 31 residential units on the site.

North of the Mission LLC — an entity recently created by former Sonoma City Councilman Kelso Barnett and Sonoma resident Kelby Steenkamp — presented its plans to neighbors Saturday before submitting the proposal to the city for formal review.

“The purpose of our meeting was to present plans for our proposed project to our district,” Steenkamp said. “We believe the presentation went well and our plan was warmly received.”

Neighbor Francie Ward had nothing but praise for the project and the developers’ process. “The property tour helped us put this project in the context of its proximity to where all of our neighbors live now. “Without walking there myself, I never would have guessed what a large piece of undeveloped land there is right here in the middle of our neighborhood,” she wrote after the meeting. “FYI.” “I haven’t heard any complaints from anyone.”

The LLC — which includes additional investor partners from the neighborhood — acquired the property on June 1, and has been developing and improving the project over the past three months.

The proposal calls for construction of six buildings with 20 one-bedroom units of 850 square feet. One-bedroom unit, 800 square feet; Five 1,878-square-foot, two-bedroom units; and four two-bedroom units, 1,214 square feet.

254 First Street Project.pdf

The buildings will be primarily two stories, although five units have a minimum of third floors and roof decks.

According to project documents, it is meant to be “affordable by design” with smaller units that could attract young families and retirees. “To meet the 25% comprehensive affordable housing requirement for the nine units exceeding 850 square feet, two units will be made available to low- and moderate-income buyers, with the additional 0.25 unit to be paid as an alternative fee payment into the Sonoma Affordable Housing Trust Fund,” according to the documents.

Barnett said this is the fourth project to be proposed at the site in eight years, and since the city has designated the parcel as a housing opportunity site, he believes it is very likely it will be redeveloped soon. But, as local residents, it was important to get the project into the neighborhood before it got to City Hall.

“As neighbors of this site, we decided to match the conversation about the need for housing in our community with action, and not rely on others to develop the future of our region and the city of Sonoma,” he said. “We hope to counter the ‘developer versus neighbor’ narrative by demonstrating a new model for real estate development in Sonoma – stepping up, working together, and winning for our city.”

The site plan also includes a swimming pool and outdoor kitchen, as well as 40 uncovered parking spaces.

Feedback from neighbors at Saturday’s meeting related to potential impacts the project could have on nearby developments and specific units, particularly regarding light and privacy.

“Since our project was designed to mitigate those impacts, the feedback has been positive,” Steenkamp said.

“The positive feedback we received validates the vision for our project and the design developed by our in-house architects, Carol Marcus and Bill Wheelers (of Marcus & Wheelers Architects). As a result, we do not anticipate making major changes to our project,” Barnett added.

The site currently contains 15,000 square feet of businesses, including Cannon School of Music, Sonoma Car Club, Armando Party Rentals and Embassy Flag. The commercial buildings, warehouses and garage will be demolished to make way for the new development.

Some trees near the southeast corner of the property will likely also need to be removed. But efforts will be made to preserve the oak trees along the southern border of the property as well as preserve the trees along the driveway as a buffer for the single-family home to the north.

North The next step for the mission will be to present the project to the City of Sonoma’s Project Advisory Committee for additional feedback from planning, building, engineering and fire officials.

“After we consider all feedback from the neighborhood and city, we will then incorporate reasonable changes and submit our final plans to the City of Sonoma to begin the entitlement process,” Steenkamp said.

The city will then review the proposal to ensure the project complies with the General Plan and Development Code as well as conduct an environmental review to ensure it is in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.

Once it is determined that all required analyzes are complete, the city will then schedule a public hearing before the Planning Commission. All neighbors within 500 feet of the site will be notified, and the meeting will be open to the public.

“If our project is approved by early next year, we do not expect construction to begin on site until late 2024 or early 2025,” Steenkamp said.

The parcel of land located at 254 First St. was developed. E. was originally built in the late 1940s by Acme Leather Products, which operated a leather factory adjacent to the railroad until 1963. Peterson Mechanical then acquired the land and ran an industrial sheet metal, plumbing and piping business there until 2000.

Since then, the site has been home to catering, glassblowing and signage businesses, as well as a taxi service dispatch centre.

The other three projects that have been proposed for the site, including a hotel, since 2015 have been met with strong opposition by many neighborhood residents.

“The type of land use, density, size and mass of previous projects proposed for this site were inconsistent with our neighborhood and the desired future as envisioned in the City of Sonoma General Plan,” Steenkamp said.

“Compared to previous failed projects, we believe our proposal strikes a better balance between density, compatibility, financial feasibility and our responsibility to be sensitive to both our surrounding neighborhood and the City of Sonoma,” Barnett added. “Getting support from our neighbors is just as important as getting approvals from the Commission.” Planning. We hope our proposal will work because we have done both.

Reach reporter, Dan Johnson, at daniel.johnson@sonomanews.com.

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