Codding Enterprises of Rohnert Park, Calif., is getting back into residential development in a big way. The shopping center-centric company, which boasts turn-of-the-century home builder roots, is manning a 10-year build-out of Sonoma Mountain Village, a $1 billion multiuse project to include 1,900 housing units and 750,000 square feet of retail space. Helping to power the community is a 90,000 square foot array of solar panels, the largest private installation to date in the state of California.

“Three years ago I became CEO, and we conducted an inventory of our assets that showed our portfolio was roughly 80 percent covered malls,” says Codding's chief, Brad Baker. “We decided we did not want to compete against the Westfields of the world in what was really becoming a national business. When the property suitable for a mixed-used community became available via auction, we jumped at the opportunity.”

Codding's $40 million bid for the former Aglient Technology Campus was the winner, and almost immediately the thinking turned to sustainability. “We knew we wanted to have a new urban foundation with narrower streets, taller buildings, mixed use—and by the very design of New Urbanism, you have a fairly environmentally friendly platform,” says Baker, who has long been involved in alternative energy as the founder of a bio-diesel company. “We refer to Sonoma Mountain Village as a deeply sustainable community that takes a holistic approach to green building.”

SOLAR SYSTEM: Roughly 90,000 square feet of solar panels will power Sonoma Mountain Village, a  mixed-use development in California.
SOLAR SYSTEM: Roughly 90,000 square feet of solar panels will power Sonoma Mountain Village, a mixed-use development in California.

In addition to the solar array, Codding will also incorporate rainwater collection cisterns for a green-friendly flush factor and is grinding up the asphalt parking lots currently on site to reuse for the development's bike trails and minimized street space.

Residential construction on a mix of 900 apartments and 1,000 single-family units is set to begin in 2008. “Phase one was to revitalize the commercial core,” says Baker, noting that Codding itself has relocated its corporate headquarters to Sonoma Mountain. “Phase two will be residential and retail. We are right in the middle or our environmental impact report process and hope at this time next year we will be starting in on that phase two. To build that out is probably another 10 years, depending on how the market reacts to the project.”

Eventually, Codding aims to apply for Platinum-level LEED certification on the entire project. Extending light-rail to Sonoma Mountain from nearby Cotati station could help with the credits necessary for certification, a proposal that was narrowly defeated in a local referendum. “We needed 66.6 [percent] and we got 66.4 percent of the vote, but we'll go back to the ballots in 2008 and think that it will happen,” Baker says. “We are certainly designing for that.”