ROHNERT PARK, CA—As far as one of its own City Council members is concerned, the city of Rohnert Park is a “medical desert,” due to a shortage of doctors and healthcare facilities to serve the population.

That was one of the reasons why San Ramon, CA-based Meridian Property Co. acquired a 69,000 square foot MOB in Rohnert Park earlier this year. At the time, company officials referred to the purchase as a “value-add” opportunity, what with the building being about 50 percent vacant.

It now looks as if the company has found the value it was looking to add while, at the same time, Rohnert Park has gained much-needed healthcare services.

When Meridian, a subsidiary of Marcus & Millichap, acquired the building for an undisclosed price, Oakland, CA-based Kaiser Permanente was the only tenant, taking up the entire first floor of the two-story building at 5900 State Farm Drive.

But recently, John Pollock, Meridian’s chief operating officer, announced that the firm had had landed a tenant to occupy the entire second floor, bringing the building to 100 percent leased.

That new tenant is the Petaluma Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that provides primary medical care, chronic disease care, nutrition services, dental care, integrative medicine, mental health services, and wellness programs to more than 20,000 residents of southern Sonoma County.  The city of Petaluma is about seven miles south of Rohnert Park.

According to Petaluma Health Center, the new location is likely to serve about 5,000 patients in the first year, eventually growing to about 15,000 annually.

In a news release, Petaluma Health Center CEO Kathie Powell said: “Making services more accessible will lead to better health outcomes for our patients and the community.” Rohnert Park, she notes, has a high number of people who are eligible for publically subsidized health insurance that have yet to enroll. The center will assist residents in doing so. 

When Meridian acquired the facility, Pollock noted that Rohnert Park was in need of medical space, as the area was well below the national average of doctors per resident. A Rohnert Park City Council member, Gina Belforte, told a local newspaper that the city was a “medical desert. There’s a real gap in medical care in our community. Anytime we can get medical providers to come in, it’s a benefit to the whole community.”

Petaluma Health Center will spend about $5 million to build out its space. It is embarking on a fundraising campaign for about half of that amount.

Meridian is also planning to spend capital on the facility, with plans to upgrade the lobby and to give the building more a “medical look.”

John B. Mugford is the Editor of Healthcare Real Estate Insights™, the nation’s first and only publication totally dedicated to covering news and trends in healthcare real estate development, financing and investment. For more information, please visit