Demolition work began this week on the old Barlow Company property. A chain-link fence went up a few weeks ago, but developer Barney Aldrich was still working to secure funding for the ambitious redevelopment project. When Wells Fargo  agreed to lend him construction funding at last, work could commence. Some of the existing buildings will be retained and refurbished as part of The Barlow, but the main building fronting Morris Street is being demolished; the total footprint will increase by approximately 40,000 square feet. Materials will be reused where possible.

While some trees, most notably the small redwoods closest to the skate park, are being removed, the landmark monkey-puzzle tree at the corner of Morris Street and Sebastopol Avenue will remain. The plans call for many new trees to line the parking lots,  new courtyards, and the extension of McKinley Street to Morris Street.

Aldrich has been lining up tenants, including a winery and two breweries, all of which gained licenses this fall. Several existing tenants will continue to operate in the project, including Bronze Plus and the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. A number of public spaces will also be made available and the Sebastopol Farmers Market will also find a new year-round home at The Barlow. The Sebastopol City Council helped speed things along by agreeing to defer a number of developer fees until a later date.

I regret that I didn’t arrange a tour of the old buildings before they were demolished, but I did go throughout the site with a camera a day or two before the fence went up. These photos, which include a few interior shots (some taken by inserting the camera through holes in the wall or broken windows) capture the some sense of the site. I also obtained a donation of photos from Katherine Austin, architect for the project. Eventually these photos will become part of the Sonoma County Library’s photograph collection.

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The Barlow