This format feels wrong: The following is guest post by Session co-founder Kevin Jorgeson.
Sitting across from Brad Baker in his office at SOMO Village in Rohnert Park, he looked at me and got straight to the point. "What do you want?"
Brad Baker is the CEO of SOMO Village, a 200-acre redevelopment project in Rohnert Park. He comes from a family with deep roots in real estate development in Sonoma County (Montgomery Village, Coddingtown, etc). It's October 2016 and I'm looking for a developer to help us acquire the land and build a building for Session. By now we had been talking for a few weeks about our dream to build a world class climbing, fitness and community hub to Sonoma County. He liked the concept. But, what was my ask?
"Well, we'd really like to do a built-to-suit project and have you as our development partner. You buy the land and build the building. We'll sign a long term lease." I said.
Without hesitation, Brad looked at me and said, "OK."
I was a bit stunned. I stammered for a response. "Wait. What? I mean, that's great. But why?"
"Simple," Brad said. "This fits our investment thesis of projects with community benefit. I'm familiar with climbing and love the sport. So do my kids. I think you are the right guys to do it. And..." with a twinkle in his eye he said, "I'm pretty sure this land you're looking at used to be owned by my family. It would be great to bring it back into the fold." It turns out, the Baker Avenue exit from Highway 101 you take to get to our property is named after his family!
It would take a few months to hammer out the details, but because we were aligned around the vision of the project, the negotiations never got testy. We had ourselves a true partner. When it came time to put ink to paper, we decided to make it an occasion by breaking bread at our favorite local restaurant, Lowell's in Sebastopol.
To learn more about Brad and his thriving community at SOMO Village, visit: https://somovillage.com/