Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hamilton Marketplace is now (partly) open

I dropped by Hamilton Marketplace this afternoon and had a quick look at Marin's newest Safeway. The supermarket is the only part of the Marketplace that is open so far. It sits by itself at the southern end of the car park, alongside a Safeway gas station. The specialty shops and restaurants are located at the morthern side of the car park and are still being fitted out. Wells Fargo bank has its own building and looks ready to open. Peets Coffee & Tea is also nearly finished, and is scheduled to open tomorrow. The other units look like they need more work, and aren't likely to be open before the end of the month. These include a couple of eateries: Toast, La Boulange and Latina Grill, a phone shop and Pet Food Express.
The center is built in the popular mock-Tuscan style that you also see at Strawberry Village and the Town Center at Corte Madera. There's some nice attention to detail, such as the awnings, beams and cast iron streetlamps, but it's the architecture of the roofline, including the orange tiles and false turrets that really gives the center its character. But of course this is a retail center, which means that the architecture of the roofline is only there to show off the retailer's name. Contrast the Safeway storefront with the unfinished (and as-yet un-labeled) building opposite. A nice mess has been made of the front of the Safeway, with some rather ugly logos for US Bank and Safeway's pharmacy and cafe. As if this wasn't enough to bring the visual impact of the store down to the level of some of its neighbors, the Safeway store manager has also piled high several crates of sodas and watermellons at the front entrance.
Inside, the Safeway is big (55,000 sq.ft), with wide aisles and a large selection. It's Safeway's "Lifestyle" concept store, which has the wooden flors in the produce section, a full flower kiosk, pharmacy and the usual deli, bakery and meat & fish counters. The row of checkouts is book-ended by Starbucks and Jamba Juice kiosks, which get great exposure by being close to the entrance/exits. There's a cafe area near the entrance, which has sofa seating as well as tables and chairs.
The good news for safeway is that the store was buzzing, with plenty of local shoppers chcking out the new strore, and checking out with fully-loaded shopping carts. One strong advantage the store has is the gas station: today's customer special = 20c discount per gallon.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hamilton Marketplace nears completion

Grosvenor's 95,000 sq.ft Hamilton Marketplace is signing up more tenants as it nears completion. The neighborhood center will be anchored by a 55,000 sq.ft Safeway and supported by a range of local and chain retailers, including Peets Coffee, Jamba Juice and Wells Fargo. According to the IJ, three eateries have also signed up: Toast Cafe, La Boulange and Sonoma Latin Grill.

Meanwhile, across Highway 101, Pacheco Plaza is set to commence its redevelopment. The center's owners have received full planning permits to revive the tired mall, which is losing its anchor Safeway to the Hamilton development. No news yet on whether a replacement has been signed up, although the Pacheco Playhouse has been warned that it may be evicted in order to make way for a drugstore.

Northgate renovation underway

Anyone who has been to Northgate will have noticed a lot of the main mall is now boarded-off as the renovation work gets going. For those of you who haven't yet shared the vision, here's what to expect:
This re­imagined shopping destination will offer simple yet dramatic, light­filled spaces, an indoor-outdoor design to take advantage of the region's spectacular days, and a new connection with this one­of­a­kind local landscape. The result will feel like creative reuse of a reclaimed warehouse or a rediscovered industrial building ­­ think "Marin loft" ­ but rethought as a vibrant new shopping environment.

One new problem (or opportunity) for the developer to deal with is the uncertain future of Mervyn's, which filed for bankruptcy protection last month. If Mervyn's were to go, who would we want to replace them?

Corte Madera considers major expansion at The Village

As reported in the Marin IJ, the Town of Corte Madera is considering a major expansion at The Village, including an additional 185,000 sq.ft of retail space and 300 new homes. The expansion is one of the options being offered in the town's draft General Plan. The 2008 environmental impact report was recently published on the town's website.

Village, said the company has no immediate plans for expansion, "but it's important for us to have that flexibility in knowing what we could do down the road."

Macerich, owners of The Village, are known to be looking at expansion options, including an expansion of Nordstrom.