Saturday, May 24, 2008

Larkspur downtown

Larkspur is located on the eastern side of Mt Tamalpais and contains an historic retail and commercial downtown area centered on Magnolia Avenue.

The city is currently celebrating its 100th year and a series of improvements are planned for the downtown area. As the photos below show, there's a diverse mix of buildings in the town, reflecting both its early history as a small working town and more recent past as the center of an afluent neighborhood.

There's 50+ retail stores in the downtown area. Cafes & eateries are the most prominent category; home furnishings and womenswear boutiques are also well-represented, with the rest being a mix of local services.

Starting at the south end of the town, the Lark Creek Shops is a small strip of stores located beside the beautiful Lark Creek Inn and the redwoods of the Madrone Canyon. The buildings are in poor condition but there are some popular local businesses here, including the Lingerie Shoppe and Yankee Pier.

Next there's one of the city's newer additions: the very popular Picco restaurant and wine bar.
At the intersection of King and Magnolia is the historic City Hall building, north of which starts the main part of the downtown shopping strip.
Emporio Rulli is the cafe with the awesome pastries and cakes. There's also a wine bar and one of the few places with outside tables. Fabrizio is a highly-rated Italian restaurant. Left Bank is also always busy with its french-influenced menu. The town's watering hole is The Silver Peso, complete with shuffleboard.There are more eateries at the northern end of the town, including Burritoville, the Ward Street Cafe, sushi at the King of The Roll and Fukusuke and pizza at Cafe Lucano.The town has several signature boutiques, including Nicolette, Gala and Canvas
And Swing is a great kids clothing store. A few stores focus on home furnishings, ranging from the pricey custom-made furniture to everyday gifts/furnishings. Stores to note include Coquelicot, Susana, L'Ambiente and Country Gift Shop.
The Northern end of downtown is a mess, with poor quality developments arranged around surface parking lots. The Lucky supermarket is a second rate grocery store, just about good enough for essentials.
But the whole area could do with a serious makeover.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Gene Hiller does it again

Everyone knows that Marin's most stylish men get themselves outfitted at Gene Hiller in Sausalito. The purveyor of Italian fashion has picked up another marketing bonus by being named in Forbes magazine's top ten best clothing stores for men.

But guys, before you all rush out to get measured up for the latest Brioni or Pal Zileri, be warned that not everyone can carry off this kinda look.

Robert Redford coming to Marin

Yea, the first Sundance store outside of Colorado is set to open at the Village at Corte Madera. Based on the movie star's catalog business, the store will offer apparel, jewelry and home-decor.

For a visual clue, here's a shot of RR's Sundance store in Lone Tree, CO:
If Sundance doesn't satisfy the insatiable Marin appetite for throw rugs, do not fear, more will be available when Shabby Chic opens in the adjacent unit.

Shabby Chic founder, Rachel Ashwell, provides this insight about what to expect:
"For me, the secret to living well is to surround myself with beautiful things that are practical and deliciously comfortable. My designs are inspired by flea market finds and the appeal of sensible living. Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic is the marriage of my English heritage with the fresh and eclectic qualities of my California lifestyle."
Ladies and Gentlemen, get your wallets out.

New mixed-use project planned for downtown Novato

Caitlin Properties is proposing the redevelopment of a vacant bank building in downtown Novato to include 10,000 sq.ft of retail space and either office or residential condos above.

The development would be another great step in the revitalization of the downtown area, and might include outside dining areas.

According to the North Bay Business Journal, a City Design Review Board public workshop on the proposal could come as soon as next month.

Read the full story here.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Waiting for Whole Foods...

The IJ reports on the long long wait for Whole Foods to open their new store at the Alto Center in Mill Valley. WF claim they are simply going through the required permitting phase, but you can't help but wonder whether they are deliberately dragging their feet.
The delay has fueled rumors that Whole Foods leased the space to keep Trader Joe's out of Mill Valley. An existing Whole Foods outlet does a bustling business about two miles away at 414 Miller Ave. in Mill Valley. Kathy Severson, executive officer for the city's Chamber of Commerce, said she couldn't comment on such speculation, but "I do know that the Miller Avenue Whole Foods is considered a very high-volume store for its size."

Enough said.

The return of Crate and Barrel

Everybody cheer: Crate and Barrel is coming to the Town Center at Corte Madera. A year after closing it's store at the Village, the popular homeware retailer is taking over 8,000 sq.ft at the TC, with Z Gallerie shifting into the ex-Bombay space at the center.

A C&B spokesperson gushes:
"The customers have a sense of taste, style and trends, which is what Crate
& Barrel is all about," Everhart said. "Our furnishings, tabletop and
accessories reflect the lifestyle that is associated with Marin residents."

Read the full story in the IJ here.