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.

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