From neighborhood signs (and webpages) that read “Keep Petaluma Eggcentric” and the anti “Big-Box” sentiment it implies, Petalumans, on the whole, have fought to keep the town quaint. Downtown shops are independent and run by locals (though there are a few chain-coffee shops). Tourists flock to and gawk at our muddy river whilst tasting local Sonoma or Napa county wines.
A town that was once the hub of Telecom Valley, continues to primarily favor antique stores and boutique shops. Alone, it struggles to maintain its economy out of the red. Even with the project potentially helping to bring additional tax revenue to the city, fear of losing these little businesses is one reason why many citizens have vigorously fought against it. In their minds, the onslaught of the Big-box commercialization from coming to town would further cripple Petaluma’s spirit.
Kenilworth Field, Target(ed)
This prized lot of land, some 400K square feet of prime real estate in the geographic center of town, was the former site of Kenilworth junior high school. It was purchased in 2004 by Regency, a Florida development company for $22 million. This capital went immediately to the school district which began construction of the new junior high at a different location. Shortly thereafter, Target signed on to be the headliner of the new shopping center, to be named East Washington Place (EWP). In the years since, squabbling over uncertainties and misinformation have created an atmosphere that has driven the town’s governing body (Mayor and City Council) to postpone project decisions again and again.
So much so that Regency Centers filed a lawsuit against the city and Target has threatened to pull out of the project altogether. The primary reasons for the City’s delays are, in actuality, few, but undeniable.
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