I see it's time to send in nominations for the Business Journal's "fifth annual 2010 Top Projects Awards" (fifth... 2010...?).
There aren't a lot of Marin contenders (it's been a quiet year). A leading contender in the mixed use category will be the Tamalpais Commons project in Mill Valley (picture below). This higher-density development is the first of several planned for Miller Avenue and is still controversial with many locals who fear increased levels of traffic. I'm not sure whether the residential component is a success, but the retail is a great addition to this part of Miller, adding three new businesses: Dish restaurant, Yolo fro-yo and ToyHouse.Another Marin mixed-use development that might receive an award is the Millworks project, which houses the new Whole Foods in downtown Novato. The City has been criticized for allowing such a large project. And in terms of design it's just OK. On balance I think it's a worthwhile project, bringing business, jobs and residents to the downtown area.
Northgate Mall probably doesn't qualify, as it opened last year. They did a great job of getting most of the space leased in the midst of the great recession, but I'm not a fan of the design: the inside of the place looks too much like a warehouse. And there are too many small design fails, such as putting the H&M entry right behind this structural column.