In Ignacio, just south of Novato, is one of my favorite Marin shopping centers: Pacheco Plaza. This local grocery-anchored center was built in 1967 by the Kieckheffer Company and is still owned by the family. I love it simply for the architecture, which has something modern and typically Californian about it – it’s the shopping center equivalent of an Eichler house. The entrance to the center is framed by the Bank of Marin and West America Bank, with the latter having a neat drive-through tucked under its slanting roof that looks like an upturned planter. The other key elements that I like are the stylish monument sign and the big red Safeway signs on the supermarket. Alas for poor old Pacheco, those big red “S” logos won’t be there for much longer. A gleaming new Safeway in steel and glass is growing out of the ground at Hamilton on the eastern side of 101. In a matter of months the Pacheco store will close, the customers will disappear and the specialty shops will exit.
But of course the Kieckhefers are not going to give up without a fight. After forty one years service to the community they're ready to re-model, re-brand and re-launch! Behold the Pacheco Lifestyle Village! Plans have been submitted and approved. Architects drawings portray ultra-trendy shoppers loaded with full shopping bags and sipping lattes in the sun outside brightly-lit shops. Ah... the dream lifestyle.
I wish them luck and I think they might need it. Lucky Novato-area shoppers will soon have new full size Safeway and Whole Foods markets, as well as the recently-opened Trader Joe’s. Competing with that will be tough, especially with a new Safeway just across the freeway.
But I will certainly miss the old center. Can we at least keep the monument sign? The City wants to replace it with one that is up to code - i.e. no more than six feet tall, like this one at Novato Fair. Yuk!