Congratulations Petaluma, your next soulless big-box shopping center strip mall is once again on track to dominating one of the most valuable pieces of land the city has to offer. While that may sound particularly negative and uninspired, it should. There is no way in hell the potential for the geographical center of Petaluma is going to be met by this shopping center in any form. This land could have synergized the East and West sides of town. Could have increased tourism by boosting individuality. And could have encouraged urban innovation in future projects.
But at least we’re getting something more modern. The original and previously envisioned designs were even less inspiring. Some essentially called it a 1970s architectural abomination requiring travel by car exclusively which, among others, alienates key concepts from the city’s General Plan.
This is precisely the platform the Petaluma community coalition (PCC) folks are standing on with the lawsuit and appeal filed against the city for Regency’s East Washington Place. It created a sort’ve trifecta of inaction with the City, PCC and Regency occupying corners and preventing ground-breaking of the project.
The latest is a deal involving all three that meets some each’s criteria requested; I imagine it as a precarious compromise at best. First off, Regency will drop their “unjustly delays” lawsuit and pay for the city’s legal fees required to defend itself against the suit. PCC has also agreed to drop their lawsuit contingent upon a few design changes.
Though they are minor, a step in the right direction away from abomination. The changes include: more solar panels, more windows for natural light, a tree-lined berm along the freeway side of the new strip mall, and “traffic fixes” to encourage pedestrian safety and offset the added congestion certain to be created by the shopping center.
But it’s not over yet, as there is no legal agreement in place. And if it isn’t been drafted by July 26th, the PCC has said it will continue with their lawsuit and appeal. Even though it is widely believed the City Council will not approve it and it will ultimately be ineffectual. Which is why the PCC has got behind the rather petty changes agreed upon by the developer, Regency.
[info source, the press democrat]