Development shells

GRAY GHOSTS — Developer Chris Dluzak said bad weather and a trip back to permitting is slowing things down on this housing development just north of downtown Sebastopol, but he expects it to be finished by September.

For nearly two years, Sebastopol residents have driven back and forth past the tall, unfinished shells of a two-story housing development on the corner of Murphy and Healdsburg avenues.

First the buildings’ new yellow wood paled to a weathered brown, then they began to peel; several weeks ago, they received a coat of dark gray sealer.

What’s going on with this development?

Bad weather and a trip back to permitting is slowing things down, according to developer Chris Dluzak.

The project was first submitted to the city in 2016. It was approved and given a building permit on July 11, 2017. Dluzak said he hopes to finish it by September 2019.

The mixed-use development has a commercial unit on the ground floor facing Murphy Avenue, with two residential apartments above it. Adjacent to that is a three bedroom home on Healdsburg Avenue.

Architect Kathy Austin, who now lives in Oregon, designed the project in 2016 before developer Clive Sharrocks sold it to Dluzak more than a year ago.

Back to the drawing board

City of Sebastopol Planning Director Kari Svanstrom said the most significant change Dluzak wanted to make was to the apartments above the commercial unit.

“It was a larger three bedroom apartment upstairs, and he wanted to make a one bedroom apartment and a two-bedroom apartment,” Austin said.

Svanstrom said when it was changed from one to two units, Dluzak had to redo some of the utilities, like having additional water meters.

The only thing Dluzak is waiting on now is for the city’s civil engineer to get approval with the planning department on the new landscape plan.

“There may be one component of it that still needs a little bit of review from the city, but we’re waiting on plans I think for the landscape,” Svanstrom said.

Dluzak and Svanstrom spoke a month ago, where it was confirmed he was working on revisions to the project and looking to get started again.

A more unpredictable factor for Dluzak to account for has been the rain.

“I wasn’t going to get out in the street and do any work, probably for another month, until I’m sure it’s not going to rain anymore,” Dluzak said.

Developer has a long track record in county

“I’ve lived in Sebastopol for 40 years. I’ve built in every other town. I really like Sebastopol, and I’ve always wanted to have a building downtown,” Dluzak said.

While this is his first Sebastopol development, Dluzak is the principal manager and owner of the development firm CKD Enterprises, Inc.

He said he’s built thousands of homes, and has been a general contractor since 1980, creating about 300 commercial buildings.

His website portfolio lists featured current projects, including some in Sausalito, Sonoma, Fountaingrove and Occidental. Perhaps his most recognizable project is the Reading Cinemas Rohnert Park movie theater, formerly Pacific Theatres 16.

“I work all over the county, down in Marin and all that. Sometimes it takes a little time for me to get the paperwork that they want to see,” Dluzak said.

Although Dluzak’s received numerous calls in the last week wondering if there’s a lack of money for the development, he said this hasn’t been an issue.

He knows it’s taking a while to finish, but he’s optimistic that everything will work out well.

“You do your best, that’s all you can do, isn’t it? Like John Wooden said, ‘Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do,’” Dluzak said.

While it’s taking longer than Austin thought, she said the new development would be good for Sebastopol, which is in need of more rental properties with enough parking.

“It’s got a cute, little three bedroom house, and there will be the one bedroom and two-bedroom apartment. Once it’s done it will be really nice,” Austin said.

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