Monday, June 29, 2009

Miller Avenue in Mill Valley

Miller Avenue is the long boulevard that leads into Mill Valley from the south. It's a historic street that follows the path of the original railroad and contains a mix of uses, including many retail stores that serve the local neighborhoods of Sycamore Park and Homestead Valley. The area's history is covered in detail in this excellent piece by Matthew Stafford in the Pacific Sun.
In recent years Miller Avenue has made the news through the preparation of the Miller Avenue Precise Plan (MAPP), which is the City of Mill Valley's attempt to beautify and enable limited development in the area, make more efficient use of the commercial spaces and add affordable housing. This being southern Marin, the MAPP caused quite a stir, particularly among those that want to retain the small town atmosphere in the neighborhood. A local group called the Friends of Mill Valley were very active in the debate and produced an alternative MAPP, pointing out that the City's proposal could result in a lot more development than was anticipated, with resulting impacts on traffic and local services. With no final resolution on the Plan, the City has focused on developing a Streetscape Plan for the Avenue.
One new project that is typical of the kind of development envisioned for Miller Avenue is Tamalpais Commons. This is a mixed use development at the southern end of the Avenue's commercial area, which includes street level retail uses, upper level residential apartments and a separate block of 12 townhouses.

The commercial part of Miller Avenue starts at the southern end with a mid-sized Safeway supermarket. The area immediately north of Safeway is sparsely developed and is one of the main areas of focus for increased density by MAPP. A solitary Taco Bell / KFC stands on the west of the road. On the east side there's a medical center, Wells Fargo, the Tam Commons site, Grilly's mexican diner and Malugani TiresMy favorite building is the Caletti Construction building, which looks like a huge pile of sticks.

Other stores along this part of the commercial strip, south of Whole Foods, include the Art & Paper store and Cafe of Life Chiropractic.
It's not easy to make a living on this part of the strip - ask Ciao Bella, gradually succumbing to the ivy.
I'll put up some more photos in Part 2 of the Miller Avenue story, later this week.

No comments: