KEVIN McCALLUM, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Bank of America building in downtown Santa Rosa has been sold for $9.7 million to a development group eyeing a multi-story apartment building on the property.

The two-story building on Santa Rosa Avenue sits at the southeast corner of Old Courthouse Square and is considered one of the prime pieces of developable property in the downtown, said Paul Schwartz, who represented the sellers.

“The site just calls for something really exciting,” Schwartz said.

The Bay Area family who owned the building is not in the development business, so it sold to an experienced development team, he said. The partnership is made up of the San Mateo-based Lockehouse Retail Group and White Plains, New York-based Caspi Development Partners, which specializes in apartment and hotel projects.

Nothing will happen on the site immediately. Bank of America recently signed a fiveyear lease extension, which gives the development team time to figure out just what it wants to build, said David Kram, managing director of investment sales for Lockehouse.

“We’re open to anything that makes sense economically,” Kram said. “We’re very excited about the location and the community and the long-term prospects for Santa Rosa.”

The location overlooking the recently reunited Old Courthouse Square and other developments underway in downtown make the spot great for apartments, he said.

The partners haven’t settled on the size of the project, number of units and other ancillary uses.

“We have some time to figure all those components out,” Kram said.

The two-story, 32,000-squarefoot Bank of America building was constructed in 1966 with retail banking on the first floor and offices on the second. Given current trends in online banking, however, Schwartz said he’d be surprised if the bank neededa third of that space.

There is a move afoot to raise the 10-story cap on downtown buildings, and the investors found that possibility exciting, Schwartz said.

Sonoma County lost nearly 5,300 homes in the October fires, and officials have urged building as many as 30,000 homes in the next five years.

Santa Rosa’s state-mandated housing goals call for building about 4,500 new units by the end of 2022.

Kram said he has family in Sonoma and Glen Ellen, and has long wondered when Santa Rosa would be primed for its next wave of development. He thinks the time is now.

Rising rents across the Bay Area are pushing people further and further out, and it only make sense that many people would prefer to live in Sonoma County.

“Why would you want to drive an hour and a half to Sacramento if you could move to Wine Country?” he said. The Lockehouse website features mixed-use properties for lease in Oakland and Mountain View and a shopping center in Alamo.

Caspi Development owns more than 3,000 apartments in New York City and Westchester County.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 707 521-5207 or [email protected]