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Southern California developer buys Sonoma Truck and Auto site

Southern California developer Owen Smith has purchased the former Sonoma Truck and auto site on Broadway. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Southern California developer Owen Smith has purchased the former Sonoma Truck and auto site on Broadway. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

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Owen Smith, owner of Sunlever Corporation, a Southern California development company, announced Thursday his purchase of the Sonoma Truck and Auto site at 870 Broadway.

Smith said in an emailed press release that the nearly-two-acre property, which has been largely vacant for more than a year, will be developed and managed by a new partnership called Sonoma Gateway Commons Ltd.

The partnership’s name, Smith announced, bespeaks the group’s intentions for the site.

“We chose the name, Sonoma Gateway Commons, to signify that the project must work, architecturally, as a gateway into downtown Sonoma and, in its use, as an amenity to the city’s citizens and visitors, alike,” Smith said. “Whatever direction we take, we will ensure that the re-development of the site remains true to Sonoma’s authentic character.”

Smith, who lives in Del Mar, said he and his un-named partners will work with city officials, neighbors and the community to determine the best use for the site, located at the corner of Broadway and MacArthur Street. The property is zoned for mixed use and during two separate community meetings held in January and February to solicit public feedback, Smith acknowledged plans could include some residential component – either a small hotel or apartments.

At the last meeting, Feb. 20, Smith appeared with architect Michael Pattinson, a principal in the San Francisco firm Bull Stockwell Allen.

Pattinson previewed architect drawings showing a restaurant adjacent to a partially-open-air market, and a central courtyard that could be slated for parking. He also said the remnant foundation of a historic school could be incorporated in the design of a public garden.

Whatever the final use and configuration of the property, Smith reiterated in the sale announcement that the plan “would be largely based on feedback received during the two community meetings Sunlever held earlier this year.”

Bull Stockwell Allen, and the Santa Rosa civil engineering firm Adobe Associates, Inc., have been hired to work on the project.

Smith could not be reached for comment by phone at press time, but no sale price was announced. Another hopeful buyer earlier indicated the asking price was in the neighborhood of $2 million.

  • Lank Thompson

    And if it fails, they will be tax exempt. Or transfer monies in another partnership

  • Mike Stephens

    Let’s hope that something nice gets built here and takes away this eye sore we have to drive by daily. I am certain something related to food/wine/market/inn would be a slam dunk and is much needed for Sonoma. Move El Molino, Crisp Bakeshop and bring in other artisan eateries so we don’t have to drive to Napa.

    • Lank Thompson

      I don’t see any eye sore. The real eye sores are all the banks and coffee shops

  • In Sonoma Since 1972

    ‘…the remnant foundation of a historic school…”? WHAT historic school?! Oh, Mr. City ‘Historian’, fill us in?

  • Jack Shmollie

    Let’s make sure this is another alcohol related establishment .Seems to be the only thing that fly’s here .