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Wednesday meeting eyes future of Truck and Auto site

The future of the Sonoma Truck and Auto site is up in the air after a Jan. 15 meeting. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

The future of the Sonoma Truck and Auto site is up in the air after a Jan. 15 meeting. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

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A public meeting to discuss the future of the Sonoma Truck and Auto site, at 870 Broadway in Sonoma, has been scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 22, at the Sonoma Community Center.

The meeting has been called by Owen Smith, a Southern California developer and real estate broker who has an interest in the site that has been the subject of widespread speculation since the former Sonoma Truck and Auto business closed.

Smith said on Tuesday that representatives from the San Francisco architecture firm Bull Stockwell Allen will be on hand to discuss possible uses for the site, but he denied that a hotel has been formally planned.

“We want to present a variety of options and get feedback from the public,” Smith said. He did not rule out the possibility of a hotel, but said other uses could include town homes, condominiums, office space and other mixed-use projects.

Smith earlier represented well-known boutique hotel developer Richard Kessler, of the Kessler Collection, who made inquiries about a hotel project on the site last year but decided the property presented too many challenges. Kessler subsequently proposed a four-story, block-long hotel just south of the Healdsburg Plaza, but city officials there raised too many objections and Kessler abandoned the idea.

Smith, who owns a development and investment company called Sunlever, said Kessler no longer has an interest in the Broadway property and that, if plans were to gel for the site, Sunlever would develop them.

Smith said he has been involved in construction and real estate most of his life, although he had a lengthy career in the Marine Corps, during which he earned an MBA. He was mustered out of active duty a year ago but remains in the Marine Corps reserve with the rank of major.

City officials said earlier this week they know nothing about Smith’s plans for the property – “We have no clue,” said City manager Carol Giovanatto – and that no informal discussions have taken place about possible uses.

Bull Stockwell Allen is internationally known as a resort and hotel developer with a reputation for environmentally sensitive design.

They have developed projects for the Kessler Collection and are clearly familiar with the North Bay, with former clients including the cities of Santa Rosa and Windsor and both Napa and Marin counties.

Wednesday’s meeting will be held in Room 208 at the Sonoma Community Center at 7 p.m. The public is invited.