Architect Owner and Developer, Ross Jones has big plans for this empty corner lot (pictured above and below) at Petaluma Boulevard South and B Streets in Petaluma's historic downtown. And don't expect a modern day interpretation of neighboring ironfront buildings of yesteryear.
As an architect, owner and a developer, Jones has a keen understanding of his surroundings, working from his core to create what he envisions as a landmark new luxury boutique hotel on the little parcel of land that has been in his family since 1963. Intent on designing in true: "American style. We're no longer going back to Europe for our inspiration," he said.
Though elements of architectural history will be apparent, American style in this context promises: "Something new and inspirational, providing the community with a sense of hope," said Monica Binsfeld, of Petaluma-based Ecco Mi Design, Building Color and Materials Specialist for the 42,000 sq ft, four-story hotel, which plans on accommodating business travelers, weekend adventurers, local event goers and wedding parties, as well as providing the community with a fun and super stylish place to meet.
The 50 room hotel is being designed with modern aesthetics to appeal to Petalumans of all generations, not just out-of-towners. The flavor of the city and surrounding area's agricultural heritage and burgeoning slow food movement is integral. "There is so much thought going into its design," said Binsfeld, "there is nothing sterile about this."
Jones' grandmother, Agnes, purchased the Chevron Gas Station that formerly sat on this property, back in 1963. The gas station, which had been in operation since the 1940s, was cleared from the site after her architect grandson inherited the property, four years ago.
Celebrating Petaluma's spirit of creativity and artistry, craftsmanship in design both interior and exterior is a priority for the small, dedicated team of artists already onboard, spearheaded by Jones and Binsfeld. Every effort has been made to seek out the most talented and renowned artists and craftspeople from Petaluma and the North Bay and suited to the project.
Petaluma-raised street artist, now internationally acclaimed painter, Ricky Watts, whose next work is to be a community-sponsored high profile wall mural (Petaluma's largest) on the side of the Phoenix Theater, has been commissioned to create an original statement in exterior painting planned for the exterior top of the boutique hotel.
Also from Petaluma, Roberta Ahrens' beautiful work will grace interior walls of the hotel, in which no two bedrooms will be the same. Local artisan ironworker, Aurelio Lofaro's handcrafted, 17th Century-style, traditional ironwork is to be incorporated throughout the design elements of what promises to be an exquiste draw to Petaluma's downtown.
Internationally renowed concretists from the North Bay, Michael Miller and Brenda Walz are known for their sensory floor work in Restoration Hardware showrooms as well as in Whole Foods stores.
Tiburon-based Pippa Murray's handcut, natural mosaics promise the perfect juxtaposition with modern elements of the hotel.
"My goal from the beginning was to (make this project) work for the community of Petaluma, to contribute in a meaningful way and not just for transient guests," said Jones, whose mantra is not to 'canibilize" area business by clogging traffic (off-site valet parking is in the works) or by taking away from downtown restaurants and stores. Rather, his intention is to attract the sorts of visitors who will be immersed in downtown's unique range of retail and dining amenities. "We will encourage guests to go over to Green String Farm, to visit the cheese factory.."
In fact, Piazza Hospitality Group, Managers of the H2 Hotel in Healdsburg, are on board to provide personalized attention to guests on par with the best of high end wine country attractions. This includes a focus on selecting hotel staff for their personal knoweldge of the city of Petaluma and surrounding area, with an emphasis on ecological farming practices.
This will be reflected in the overall feel of the hotel's cutting-edge, environmentally friendly design, with its living rooftop garden, juice bar, light food and beverage service and sophisticated blend of urban farm ambiance. All materials being proposed for construction as well as decor have been selected for sustainable building that will endure the test of time.
The hotel, which is yet to be fully branded and given its name, is estimated to cost between $10 to $15 million. Pending planning approval by the City of Petaluma (an application is in the pipeline for this Spring), construction will likely start in 2014 for completion sometime in 2015.
I'll be bringing you more updates on this exciting project as it progresses through the planning process. When up and running, visiting friends and family can expect to pay a little more for a room than a night at the Sheraton Petaluma and a little less than a night in the H2 Hotel in Healdsburg. Translation - somewhere in the region of $200 a night.