A week after the public learned of Amy’s Kitchen’s decision to pull out of one of downtown Petaluma’s most prominent developments, city planners have confirmed that the organic food giant’s plans for a headquarters world society by the river seemed fragile as early as last summer.
But Petaluma planning officials say the pullback will not shut down the entire project, a 40-acre mixed-use development promising to transform a part of the long-neglected east side of the Petaluma River.
The removal of Amy’s Kitchen from Scannell’s so-called mixed-use development site was publicly revealed at a Planning Commission meeting in February, catching the commissioners by surprise. Lead planner Emmanuel Ursu said that while the developers had previously hinted at complications with Amy’s Kitchen, details weren’t worked out until last winter.
“(Scannell devs) mentioned they were in conversation with Amy’s back in the fall of 2021. I asked if they could disclose more and at that point they said ‘no. , their attorneys are working out the details,'” Ursu said in a Wednesday. afternoon phone call.
In fact, until Scannell confirmed Amy’s removal from the plans in January, Ursu said staff were continuing to process the original request. He added that under Amy’s agreement with Scannell, the restaurant chain had a way out “if certain milestones had not been achieved within a certain period of time”. Ursu said this most likely meant Amy wanted to move into her new headquarters within a year, while the project would likely not be completed for another five years.
In an emailed statement to the Argus-Courier, Amy’s Kitchen spokesman Paul Schiefer attributed the company’s pivot to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Amy’s Kitchen’s new search for office space began long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit,” Schiefer said in the emailed statement. “Since then, like many other companies, our needs have changed and evolved with a more flexible working structure. Since then, we have redesigned how we will use office space in the future.
Amy’s Kitchen management was unavailable for an interview, and a company representative did not respond to email inquiries about whether the Petaluma-based food maker had found a new house for its corporate headquarters or whether that corporate headquarters would be located in Sonoma County.
Walker Williams, who leads app development for Scannell Properties, did not immediately respond to emails or phone messages on Wednesday.
The company’s withdrawal from Scannell plans follows a lawsuit filed Jan. 20 by five employees at its Santa Rosa plant who claimed they suffered injuries due to poor working conditions.
In December, the vegetarian food retailer sold three of its production facilities in Santa Rosa, Oregon and Idaho to New York-based real estate investment firm WP Carey Inc. for $144 million. Amy’s Kitchen then leased the buildings for 30 years as part of the deal.
In its statement, Schiefer said recent activity did not play a role in the company’s decision to scrap its original headquarters plans.
Ursu said Scannell wished to make no physical changes to commercial development plans at the site and would continue to market the space to other companies wishing to lease the space. But design changes are likely to come after next steps are determined at the Planning Commission meeting next Tuesday.
The 40-acre project located just south of the Committee on the Shelterless’ Mary Isaak Center was proposed in 2020 and involved 147,300 square feet of commercial space originally designed for Amy’s Kitchen. The commercial footprint would have included offices, a test kitchen and a possible daycare for employees. It also included plans for a three-story parking garage with approximately 400 parking spaces.
The entire mixed-use site includes 195 single-family homes, up to 80 affordable apartments, 95 single-family automobile residences and 100 townhouses, as well as a public park and mixed-use trail.
Amelia Parreira is an editor for the Argus-Courier. She can be reached at [email protected] or 707-521-5208.