It’s probably the most often-passed intersection in Healdsburg, but for years it’s been the one no one wants to talk about: The intersection of Healdsburg Ave. and Front St, just this side of the Memorial Bridge.
It’s been a realty, a paint store, a corner grocery, a homeless hangout, but for most of the past decade it’s been empty, in near-ruins.
But three years ago Rody Jonas bought the property, and what was left of the building, and as of this morning Pure Power Solutions at 1 Front Street is officially open for business.
Jonas started PPS 18 years ago, before solar energy had moved out of science fiction and into practical construction practice. “Like any other construction company, we started in a pickup truck,” he said. “We’ve been part of an on-doing evolution.”
Now they design and build custom power solutions for commercial, agriculture and residential customers around the region and beyond – a recent consulting job was in Alaska, and they’re hoping to land a contract for a Hawaii customer as well.
The sun, appropriately, was shining warmly on the corner location as a small crowd of friends, family, neighbors and Chamber of Commerce well-wishers gathered for the 11 a.m. ribbon cutting on the first day of spring, March 21. Carl Vast and John Stafford played a couple of apt tunes on guitar and clarinet – “You Are My Sunshine,” “The Sunny Side of the Street” – and then it was time for the ribbon cutting.
Rody’s mother Gail Jonas, a well-known local activist and lawyer, did the honors. As the red ribbon fluttered to the sidewalk, a City of Healdsburg truck pulled up with Scott Ward at the wheel.
“Here’s our building official,” said Rody, “checking to see if we have our ribbon permit.”
Inside, Rody introduced his employees – Mike Mead, Evan Collins, Eric Caster, Blair Wickliffe and his business partner and wife, Christine Hawthorne.
The new building – incorporating not one but two of the standing walls from the previous structure on the property is spacious, airy and energy-efficient. “Our largest electrical bill so far has been $42, and that was before the solar grid went online,” said Hawthorne.
Healdsburg architect Alan B. Cohen did the design, adding to a local resume that includes the Olivetti Building remodel and his own office/residence at 205 Center St.
The remodel, like Pure Power Solutions itself, was energy-aware. “It was more a deconstruction than a tear-down,” said Jonas. Materials were locally sourced whenever possible, from recycled or salvaged materials, for minimal environmental impact.
For residents and visitors, the best part of remodel is the new look, and a modern one, to an oft-maligned intersection.
For Rody Jonas, the location is important for another reason. “I grew up on that beach down there during the summers,” said Rody Jonas, indicating Memorial Beach along the Russian River, flowing just a few meters away.
“Lots of towns don’t have a river – and you can’t create one.”