Case Study: Point Blue

Point Blue develops its scientific research and education center adjacent to the Petaluma River and one of largest remaining areas of the San Francisco Bay's wetlands and tidal marshes.

Mark Levin, Vice President of Voit Real Estate Services - Cypress Food Group, was one of the owners of a parcel of land in a business park that adjoined the marshes and wetlands of the Petaluma River basin, located in Sonoma County in Northern California.  A multi-tenant commercial condominium project for the site was advancing through the approval process, when Mark received a phone call from the facilities director at Point Blue. The facilities director had seen the parcel, the last remaining developable piece of land adjacent to the marshes and wetlands, on a kayak trip on the Petaluma River.

At that time, Point Blue had been in the process of trying to locate a piece of land in an agricultural setting in Marin County to build their offices, scientific research facility and education center. In discussions with Point Blue, Mark realized that the parcel they noticed on their kayak trip was perfectly suited for Point Blue's requirements. It would, however, require that the project which was moving through the approval process, be redesigned to accomodate Point Blue's specific requirements. 



Mark's partners in the land ownership were hesitant to change the plans, as Point Blue, a non-profit company had been paying rent of only $1 per year at the Audobon Canyon Ranch in West Marin County. The specific concern was that the plans would be modified to accomodate Point Blue, who might then be unable to move forward since they had yet to secure the financing commitments for the project.

Working with Ellie Cohen, the Executive Director of Point Blue, Point Blue's Board of Directors, the partners in the ownership of the parcel and the Planning Staff of the City of Petaluma, a consensus was formed to move ahead with the redesign, with a commitment from Point Blue that they would secure the necessary funding and a commitment from the City of Petaluma that the redesign could receive approvals in an expedited time frame.

The facility was designed so that Point Blue could take maximum advantage of the proximity to the Petaluma River wetlands area. Their offices and education center enjoy an unobstructed views of the Petaluma River as it winds south to the San Francisco Bay, surrounded by the most preserved portion of tidal marshes in the entire San Francisco Bay Area.

Since opening in the new facility in 2007, Point Blue's scientific research assignments have grown tremendously, as both the US Forest Service as well as the Canadian Forest Service employ Point Blue's scientists to study bird populations, which is the most efficient and cost effective manner to understand the changes to the environment and ecosystem in a particular region.

All of the parties that came together to make Point Blue's Research and Edcuation Center a reality are proud to have collarborated on a project that not only provides the facilities for Point Blue's scientific research, but also enables Point Blue's staffers to introduce thousands of students and adults to the wonders of the Petaluma River and the birds, animals and plants that are abundant in the surrounding wetlands and marshes.