Thursday, November 19, 2009

The sad saga of Marinwood Plaza

The village of Marinwood is located midway between San Rafael and Novato. Marinwood Plaza, which is located just west of Highway 101, used to house a Bell Market, which served the neighborhoods of Marinwood and Lucas Valley.

However, the Bell Market closed several years ago, and the Plaza has been mostly vacant and decaying since then. Only a liquor store and dry cleaner somehow survived, and the cleaner is soon to relocate to Hamilton.

Attempts to renovate and relaunch the center have been well-documented, and a summary follows.

Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams viewed the Plaza as an opportunity to develop affordable housing, a view not shared by many local residents. The Marinwood Association is a neighborhood group that has been at the forefront of attempts to get the Marinwood Village off the ground.

Marin County adopted the Marinwood Plaza Master Plan in 2006, with 30,000 sq.ft of retail space and around 100 multifamily residential units, as detailed in the Conceptual Design Plan.

At the end of 2007, hopes were raised when Trammell Crow showed interest in redeveloping the center. The Pacific Sun posted this account of attempts to rebuild the Plaza in January 2008.
And throughout 2008, residents hoped that Trammell Crow would make it happen. But by 2009 it was clear the plan wouldn't work, and activity on the redevelopment stopped.

With a population of just 6,500, the local area just isn't big enough to support a full market, so it makes sense to plan any future redevelopment around residential units, with a smaller retail plaza of 5-6 units at the Miller Creek Road end of the site. Let's hope that another developer sees the opportunity to make this happen when the economy picks back up.

1 comment:

Geoffrey Mack said...

The oft-repeated statement that Marinwood doesn't have a large enough population to support a market is a canard that should be challenged and ultimately discarded. The property is located on the freeway. Tens of thousands of cars pass the market daily, would see the signage, and potentially stop by. How many other markets in Marin are located on the freeway? Two... a Safeway in Mill Valley and another Safeway in Ignacio. This location could do very well, even if the local community of 2,400 homes, 5,000 residents with a median family income almost 90% higher than the California average, is deemed too small to support it. The right redevelopment and the right market could take advantage of the location and become a huge draw.