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Traffic Studies, Miller Time and Retail Monuments

Columnist: Bill Meagher
January, 2016 Issue
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Bill Meagher
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"I'm not a lawyer—though I always wanted to play one on TV."

 

The Good Earth grocery store project in Tamalpais Valley outside Mill Valley is undergoing a scorched earth campaign of sorts. The proposed store, which would take the place of the markets formerly open under the Bell and Delano IGA brands, gained the approval of the Tam Valley Design Review board in 2014 and the county’s planning department also told the Good Earth “via con dios.”

But Dave Coury, who hails from Corte Madera, is concerned that a market flying under the Good Earth flag might cause too much traffic for the location at Shoreline Highway and Flamingo Road. So Mr. Coury sued the county, Good Earth and the landowner, Parish-Martin LLC, to force a traffic study before building starts. It should be noted that Coury is an advocate for affordable housing, and the county identified Tam Junction as a possible site. But the planning commission determined it would be too congested if housing units were built.

David Zaltsman, the deputy county counsel for Marin, says that since the site was already occupied by supermarkets, a traffic study is going to be a tough lawsuit to win.

I’m not a lawyer—though I always wanted to play one on TV—but the logic here seems inescapable. It’s a little like the time some Gerstle Park neighbors hired a lawyer to tell the city of San Rafael it needed an environmental impact report before letting the San Rafael Pacifics play baseball at Albert Park—which is, of course, a baseball park. The Pacifics have been playing at Albert since June 2012.

One suspects that Coury is racking up billable hours for his barrister and, in the end, the good people of Tam Valley will be buying groceries in February 2016, when 150 people will have new jobs in the store.

 

Meet with me about Miller

Miller Avenue, gateway to the charming berg of Mill Valley, has been the subject of 13 years of study, debate and PowerPoint presentations over what the boulevard should look like and how it will best serve residents, businesses and visitors. It now appears that a $14.2 million project to give the almost two-mile stretch of street a facelift has gained approval and work will begin next summer. As a result of the project the road will change, bike lanes will be improved, lighting and benches will be added and 52 parking spaces will be lost.

The loss of parking isn’t a positive for local businesses, but the city claims a parking management plan will ease that crunch. The trouble with parking issues in Marin is that folks are used to parking close to where they need to go, unlike hanging in San Francisco, where finding a parking space within three blocks of your destination is often greeted with praising spiritual figures, dancing in the street and the taking of selfies next to one’s car.

 

Your Marin Moment

With the New Year dawning, it’s comforting to know that, at some point in the coming months, the suspense will end and we’ll know whether the town of Corte Madera will allow Macerich and Restoration Hardware to construct a monument to large furniture in The Village.

Resto, as it’s known among those familiar with the company, wants to build a 67,000-square-foot store—well, not really a store. “We don’t build retail stores,” Gary Friedman, Resto’s CEO informs in a four-minute online video that takes folks on a 3D tour of the project. “We build inspiring spaces that blur the lines between residential and retail, indoors and outdoors, physical and digital, with garden courtyards, reflecting pools and rooftop parks.”

It’s really worth a look at the video at www.rhcortemadera.com to understand Friedman’s vision.

The inspiring space would be located where a very uninspiring parking lot is currently located adjacent to Banana Republic and The Gap.

Friedman also says Leonardo Di Vinci would be proud of the architecture his company is creating. And that “RH: The Gallery at the Village” will be the crown jewel of the company, which has its headquarters just around the corner on Koch Road.

It’s strictly a coincidence that the company HQ is on a road that shares its name with the billionaire brothers/conservative kingmakers whose network plans on spending $889 million on political contributions toward politics in 2016.  

Friedman says that at Resto, they like to say, “We need to think until it hurts, so we can see what others cannot see, and do what others cannot do.”

I believe him about the thinking till it hurts part.

 

 

Bill Meagher is a contributing editor at NorthBay biz magazine as well as an associate editor in The Deal’s west coast office in Petaluma. He lives with his family in San Rafael. You can reach him with your comments, deep thoughts and legal threats at bmeagher@northbabybiz.com.

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