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Of New Proposals, New Bikes, New Eats, New CEOs and Old Seaplanes

Columnist: Bill Meagher
November, 2017 Issue
Columnist

Bill Meagher
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North Coast Land Holdings, which bought the old 126-acre Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary site in Strawberry Point for $84 million in 2014, submitted plans to the county to put a grad school on the site, along with replacing 198 living units and building an additional 93 units.

The developer is also looking to lease a total of 304 residential units not related to any school based on a state density bonus that could be available if 20 percent of the units were affordable housing.

Previously, North Coast proposed that Ross-based Branson School move its operation onto the property. But the school pulled the plug after neighborhood opposition.

Two residential groups in the Strawberry area have made their opposition to North Coast’s plan clear. And in turn, North Coast says it (and its plans) are moving forward.

This is just beginning—buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.  

Bike buyout

Mike’s Bikes, the Novato-based retailer with a dozen locations, has purchased Public Bikes, a San Francisco company. 

Public Bikes is a city-focused bike retailer, which had just one branded store, located in Hayes Valley. But the company has an online business, which is strong. While the Hayes Valley store is closed, the e-retail will be where Mike’s will place its major effort.   

The 4th Street shuffle

San Rafael’s 4th Street has seen more changes recently than the Trump administration. Pizza Orgasma shut its doors, leaving just a colorful décor. A new Chinese eatery is going in where Crepevine formerly hung its chapeau. Crepevine is now located up the street at 1133 4th, the space that West End Café called home for years. The Crepevine shares the space with Cascabel, a restaurant featuring New Mexican cuisine.

I can say that Cascabel’s food is interesting and other than a bar staff that is so laid back you may want to pack smelling salts, the place has a certain lounge vibe that’s nice.

And Iron Springs Pub and Brewery, a stalwart in Fairfax for years, is taking its act on the road. The tavern is opening this month as Iron Springs Public House at 901 4th Street where it runs smack-dab into Lootens Place.

Locals who have lifted a pint at Iron Springs in Fairfax know the eatery has a tradition of donating 10 percent of its receipts on Tuesdays to local nonprofits and having live music on Wednesdays. At the public house, those customs will continue, but nonprofits will get 10 percent of the till on Wednesdays and music will be found on Tuesdays. 

Marin Economic Forum has a new boss. Again. Still.

Stop me if you have heard this before, but the Marin Economic Forum has hired a new CEO.

Robin Sternberg became the fourth head honcho since 2011, replacing Jim Cordeiro who took a powder in January.

The search for a new top exec may have gone hither and yon, but it ended in Kentfield where Sternberg lives. Sternberg’s resume includes time in Minnesota serving on the Governor’s Job Creation Initiative. Sternberg was also a deputy commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development from 2012 to 2015.

Your Marin moment

Offered for your approval Seaplane Adventures, a small business operating on Richardson Bay in the watery depths splitting Sausalito’s houseboats and the hills of Strawberry not far removed from De Silva Island. 

More than 200 folks attended a meeting of the august body known as the Marin County Planning Commission as it pondered the complaints of some Strawberry residents and other locals that the planes were too noisy. The neighbors wanted the county to alter the business’s use permit. The meeting, which featured more speakers than Best Buy’s home audio department, went on for better than four hours. Some of those at the mike supported Seaplane Adventures, while others compared the planes to a “Frankenstein’s monster.”

As one of the speakers pointed out, when the seaplanes first started landing in the bay in 1953, there were no homes on Strawberry Point, no apartments at Strawberry Shores and no condos in Strawberry Cove, an observation that had some thinking about the Farmer’s Market, where there are always plenty of strawberries.

In the end, the commission concluded they had no jurisdiction and the troubled neighbors were free to take their concerns to the Federal Aviation Agency.

Left unsaid? The neighbors who were opposed to Seaplane Adventures had spent a healthy chunk of time complaining that they had moved next to “the airport”—and now they wanted the airport to move.

This column was brought to you by Strawberry, both a fruit and a neighborhood.

Bill Meagher lives in Marin with his wife Cindy and a pack of three cats. He is an associate editor for financial news outlets TheStreet and The Deal in their San Francisco office. 

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