Monday, March 10, 2008

Strawberry Village

Strawberry Village is located on the eastern side of Highway 101 in the Strawberry suburb of Mill Valley. The center is anchored by a 45,000 sq.ft Safeway supermarket and also contains around 120,000 sq.ft of externally-oriented space in several separate buildings.
Originally opened in 1964, the center was owned by the University of California until 2004, then sold and redeveloped. Safeway expanded its store by 15,000 sq.ft and a new main street and plaza were added. The design is Tuscan-inspired, which means red tiled roofs, lemon trees, terracotta pots, oak beams and one or two towers and false turrets in shades of yellow and burnt umber.

The lease-up and opening of stores in the Piazza area has been slow; the last two remaining units are still waiting fit-out nearly two years after construction was completed. The focus of this area was always going to be the eateries, and the two that have opened so far seem to have hit the mark. Pizza Antica is a small-chain family restaurant that has a big open high-ceilinged dining room that gets very noisy. La Boulange is a Bay Area chain of 8-9 French bakery/café/pastry shops. When the weather is good the Plaza is a great place to sit outside for breakfast or lunch. Other eateries at the center include the ever-popular Thep Lela Thai, Harmony, which specializes in Dim Sum, High Tech Burrito, Pasta Pomodoro, Sushi Gourmet and Rain Tree Café. At the southern edge of the center are In-N-Out Burger and Round Table Pizza. There are two separate parts to Strawberry Village. The northern part is the largest section and contains Safeway and all of the remodeled components. The southern part is smaller and comprises mostly financial and professional services. Ideal Stationers is an old-style office supplies store that has been at the center forever and is worth seeking out at the southern end of the center for its eclectic merchandise. The most visible new store at the center is Smith & Hawken. The iconic garden & patio furniture chain originally started trading from a small store in downtown Mill Valley and now occupies an eye-catching 10,000 sq.ft unit with enough room to show its range of adirondaks, firepits and outrageous gazebos. Other stores that are long term tenants at Strawberry include Wolf Camera, Arch Rival, which has a strong following as the place to go to get tennis shoes professionally fitted. World of Sound specializes in high-end home theatre and hi-fi installations. Patrick James West Coast Classics has classic outfits from the likes of Corneliani, Bills Khakis, Tommy Bahama etc. Among the newer stores the common theme is catering to the higher end of the market. Given that the local market is affluent Tiburon & Mill Valley, this is a sensible approach. Nancy Koltes at Home is a small store that showcases the designer’s linens.Nicole Gray & Co. mixes beauty products with gifts and homewares. Other new stores that seem to have found their niche include Woodlands Pet Food & Treats which, in addition to all the pet products also offers dog training and adoption clinics. The adjacent Monkey Business toy store stocks quality products of the kind that all parents would want to buy for their kids if they had the budget. The Spanish Table's niche is all things Spanish, including foods, wines and cookware.Stores that always seem to be busy include Starbucks, New York Bagels (aka the slowest bagel store in the west) and Woody’s frozen yoghurt place. Other stores always seem to be empty, especially the poorly-located Jos A Banks, which sits by itself at the back of the center. Safeway is usually very busy. It was remodeled in 2005 to the latest "lifestyle" format and extended to include bonus services, such as the pharmacy and hot food counter.
The two new stores that are yet to open at the center are Asqews Grill, which is a small Bay Area chain specializing in skewered and barbequed dishes, and Lavande Spa & Boutique, which promotes itself as offering an interesting combination of manicures, pedicures and womens shoes.

No comments: