October 08


Theater District – Master Planning

Project Location: Petaluma, California
Project Type: Master Planning
A. Boulevard Cinema
B.  Theater Square Retail / Apts
C.  Parking Garage
D.  Waterfront Office Bldg
E.  Residential Lofts
F.  Town Center Retail
G.  The Lofts Retail / Apts

(Excerpts taken from the New York Times, John McCloud, June 9, 2004)

“From the 1880’s through the 1940’s, Petaluma was the largest supplier of eggs in California and one of the largest in the world, according to the Petaluma Historical Society. At its peak in the 1930’s, some 41 million eggs were produced annually in the city. It even had the country’s only pharmacy devoted exclusively to poultry diseases.

Downtown Petaluma, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995, survived the transition from agriculture to high technology in reasonably good physical shape. Its traditional small-town feel made it a popular backdrop for movies like ”Peggy Sue Got Married” and ”American Graffiti,” and helped turn it into a regional antiques center.

Nevertheless, most businesses serving local customers moved to outlying shopping centers. As a result, downtown is largely quiet except on weekends and holidays.

But a local developer, Basin Street Properties, has set out to change that pattern with a project that is the largest in the city’s history.

The $100 million endeavor, which entered its third phase last month, is adding 86,000 square feet of retail space, 70,000 square feet of offices, a 12-screen theater, a 530-space parking garage and 226 apartments to the city’s historic downtown.

Known as the Theater District, the project encompasses seven underused blocks of the 30-block city center. It involves both new construction and reuse of historic buildings dating to the period when the city promoted itself as ”the world’s egg basket.”

The new buildings, which constitute about 90 percent of the project, are faced in brick and designed to fit in with the surrounding architecture. None are taller than three stories.

In the development’s first two phases, completed in 2002 and 2003, two historic buildings were converted into 58,000 square feet of retail space and 20,000 square feet of offices. The current phase includes 25,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space below 43 apartments on two floors.

The parking garage and cinema, to be operated by Cinema West, a Northern California chain with 11 theaters, are scheduled to open in December. Another office building and apartment complex are set for completion next year. The final element, a 45,000-square-foot retail center with a public plaza, is expected to be ready in 2006.”

At Strauss Architects, we worked aggressively with the developer to create designs for the Cinema, Parking Garage, Office Building and Theater Square.  We created schematic designs and made presentations to the local community and design boards to gain their input and receive entitlements for this new city district.

Birds Eye Master with McNabe