Planners OK Mission Square project

Posted on November 21, 2013 by Sonoma Valley Sun

After several major revisions since it was first proposed in 2002, the mixed-use Mission Square development at 165 E. Spain St. has been approved by the Sonoma Planning Commission.

The plan calls for 3,514 sq. ft. of office space, 14 apartment units, and associated parking, landscaping and improvements. The 1.1-acre parcel opens to a driveway on East Spain, adjacent to the Blue Wing Inn, and runs parallel to the rear of Plaza shops and parking.

The vote was 4-2. If appealed, the Sonoma City Council will have the final say.

The land, owned by David and Marcus Detert, is currently grassland and trees except for a condemned vacant home on East Spain Street. It will be rebuilt as part of the project.

While the lot is one block from the Sonoma Plaza and is included in the Sonoma Plaza National Historic District, the proposed development has always met zoning and density criteria. But opponents contend it is inappropriate to the historic setting, and that construction-caused vibrations could harm the Blue Wing and even the Mission, which is located across the street.

As designed by Marcus & Willers Architects, there will be two one-story apartment buildings, a two-story office building and 36 parking spaces. In their November 14 ruling, commissioners directed the city’s Design Review Commission to pay particular attention to the aesthetics of the larger building, which will be the most visible to passersby on East Spain Street.

The arrangement of the buildings will create an interior courtyard with pedestrian links to a common outdoor space anchored by existing pecan tree.

The initial plan for the space, in 2002, called for a 34-room hotel and 10 apartments. It was widely opposed by neighbors and Sonoma League for Historic Preservation, who felt the scale of the project overwhelm the neighborhood’s historical ambience. Compared to the prior designs, a controversial plan shelved in 2005 and additional attempts in 2007 and 2010, the overall square footage has been more than halved.

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