Railroad Square development draws support, questions 

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Affordable housing and parking emerged Monday as two key issues that the developer of an $85 million Railroad Square project will need to carefully navigate to win approval from city officials and the transportation agency that owns the Santa Rosa property.

The first public hearing on the plan by Santa Clara-based ROEM Corp. to build 268 units of housing, retail shops and a public plaza on 5.4 vacant acres west of the city’s downtown rail station featured plenty of praise for the proposal.

“What you’ve put before us is what this community has been looking for for a long time,” Santa Rosa City Councilman Chris Coursey said.

But it was also clear debates that bogged down previous efforts to develop the site are already re-emerging, potentially threatening swift approval of the project.

How many units of affordable housing would be included in the project? How affordable would those units be? How much would the city or county be asked to subsidize construction of those units? All were questions raised but left unanswered during Monday morning’s well-attended presentation at City Hall.

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