Demolition work began Tuesday at the site of the former Sonoma Truck & Auto, a project that will bring down dilapidated buildings and crack-riddled pavement on a property described in recent years as an “horror” by law enforcement officials. city and local residents.
The site at 870 Broadway has remained in a state of disrepair in the years since the 2010 death of longtime owner Bob Bohna and the subsequent closure of his decades-old car dealership.
The 1.86-acre property was purchased in November 2021 by Lat33 Capital, the real estate investment firm that owns MacArthur Place Inn and Spa across from 29 E. MacArthur St. It was previously owned by an investment group whose the proposal for a 33-unit mixed-use housing development—the Sonoma Gateway Project—collapsed amid neighborhood opposition.
Lat33 officials promised that cleaning up the site would be a top priority; the City Design Review & Historic Preservation Commission issued the Arizona-based company a demolition permit last December to demolish the property’s three buildings: a 6,000-square-foot auto showroom, a 3,000-foot barn square that had been used for storage and a 1,000 square foot garage.
Following the demolition of the structures, a “thorough cleanup” is expected to take place throughout September, according to Lat33 spokesman Ali Lundberg. Other site improvements will include overseeding the ground, protecting trees and installing temporary fencing. The crews will also take measures to ensure the security of the package.
The property has been subject to multiple city code enforcement violations in recent years, including becoming a target of vandalism, “as well as documented security incidents, including one that required medical attention from emergency,” according to a report from the city of Sonoma.
The Truck & Auto property has seen several incarnations over the years, dating back to the 1860s when it was the site of one of California’s first universities, Cumberland College. In 1906 the building was renovated and became Sonoma Valley Union High School. After the high school moved south to its present location on Broadway in the 1920s, the site became a Ford Motor Company dealership.
Bohna purchased the site for its Sonoma Truck & Auto used car dealership in 1973.
While cleaning up the property is the current priority, Lundberg also said work crews will try to preserve the stones of the original schoolhouse and the timber of the base of the old barn, as well as the iconic Sonoma Truck & Auto sign, “to continue-hand for all potential future plans for the property.”
According to a city assessment, the historical significance of the property is marginal at best. While the former showroom conveys “hints of the revival of the mission”, none of the buildings display the distinctive features associated with the “richly stylized” automobile-related developments of the era found in urban centers like Sacramento and San Francisco, according to the report.
Sonoma Mayor Jack Ding is among those thrilled the cleanup is underway. He even suggested Lat33 executives post historic photos and descriptions of the property’s past to “represent the spirit and values of our city.”
“It would bring our community together and support (for) their future project,” Ding said.
As for the future of the property, Lat 33 CEO Chad Parson said the company is “working on a concept” but it could be several years before it presents a project proposal. detailed.
In the meantime, they focused on cleaning up the property.
“It was such a horror for so many years,” Parson said. “I think the city and the neighborhood will be thrilled to have something a little nicer on the doorstep of Sonoma.”
Email Jason Walsh at [email protected]