Sunday, January 20, 2008

Corte Madera Town Center

The Town Center at Corte Madera is a familiar sight to anyone who regularly drives south on 101 through Marin County. There’s the Container Store, REI and Barnes & Noble - all clearly visible from the freeway. But unless you stop to visit you might miss the attractive pedestrian mall, lined with boutiques, gourmet merchandise stores and eateries, that is tucked in between the shops that face the freeway and a Safeway and Rite Aid on the other side.

The Town Center is a shopping mall that serves several different purposes: it’s a neighborhood center that provides everyday shopping for the local population; it’s a destination mall that draws people in from the wider region to shop the Container Store or REI; and it’s a lifestyle mall that people visit to stroll, browse and eat in the elegant architectural setting that the owners claim is modeled on an Italian hill town.

Because of these contradictory personalities it has taken several years and a few false starts for the Town Center to establish itself. A few years ago the center was updated with the help of a Feng-Shui design guru, who introduced fountains, wall artwork, plantings and lots and lots of tables and chairs, all carefully positioned to promote a feeling of peace and harmony.

The leasing team has also been at work on the tenant roster, replacing down-market stores with more upscale brands. Last year a Barnes & Noble bookstore was brought in to replace Marshalls at the southern end of the center. More recently, the popular PF Changs restaurant and two up-market home furnishings stores: Harvest Home and Napa Style, were added.

The Details


Located just west of Highway 101 at Corte Madera, approximately 3 miles south of San Rafael and 7 miles north of San Francisco. Access from the Tamalpais Boulevard, Paradise Drive exit (northbound) and Madera Boulevard exit (Southbound).


The Town Center contains 350,000 square feet of retail space clustered around a north/south pedestrian mall. Approximately 70,000 sq.ft of professional suites are located above the stores at the southern end of the mall. Car parking is provided around the perimeter.


Retail sales estimated at approximately $500 per sq.ft, or $160 million per annum in total.

The center’s share of trade area retail spending is estimated at 19.2% in the primary sector (Corte Madera and Larkspur) and 5.1% in the secondary sector (remainder of Southern Marin).



  • The West entry, with ugly fixed seating outside McDonalds.

  • The South entry, with vacant ex-Good Guys unit, Charles Schwab, entry to professional suites providing little interest.

  • The South mall, sunk below the level of the shops, makes access difficult and deters browsing.

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