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Tam Ridge Woes, Comings and Goings, Friedman Gets Fiery

Author: Bill Meagher
May, 2016 Issue

Bill Meagher
All articles by columnist
Author: Bill Meagher
May, 2016 Issue

“We couldn’t hold onto our staff. Most of them were coming down from Sonoma or Napa in that traffic, and doing that twice a day took its toll.”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: There’s a problem with the Tam Ridge Residences project in Corte Madera.
The 180-unit upscale apartment complex bordering Highway 101 on the former WinCup property has been a lightning rod since the town council signed off on the project. Now MacFarlane Partners, the San Francisco developer that owns the 4.5-acre plot, fired its contractor, LedCor Construction Inc. of Las Vegas. The project is two years behind schedule and construction was suspended in February. Word is that issues facing the yet-to-be-completed complex included waterproofing, not the kind of trouble you want in the middle of El Niño.
More than one year ago, MacFarlane officials told local media the project was pretty much on schedule and all that was left were some finishing touches.
In the past, residents complained that LedCor crews were working until 11 p.m. and, last year, the town cited the contractor for its lack of progress.
The town council approved the project in February 2012, a time when housing (specifically, the type that’s affordable) was being pursued on a regional basis by state housing officials. And though affordable housing seems about as popular as Donald Trump at a Bernie Sanders rally, that turns out to be the least of Tam Ridge’s problems. The complex is regarded as too big, too colorful and, likely, a traffic creator.
When it’s finally completed, allegedly this summer, the complex will include a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units along with 18 affordable units. The project will also include a private park, a bocce court and, because it’s Marin, a yoga studio.
It will also eventually include an Andy’s Market.

Novato’s new bookstore

Copperfield’s, the lively bookstore chain out of Sebastopol, opened an outpost in downtown Novato at 999 Grant Ave. It’s the company’s eighth store and its second in Marin behind the Fourth Street location in San Rafael.
The 6,000-square-foot store is in the building owned by Portland-based Umpqua Bank, which took it over when the Oregon bank bought out Novato-based Circle Bank in 2012 for $24.9 million.
Novato has been ripe for a new bookstore since the Lovable Rogue, a bookstore and man cave, closed up last June.

Hudson Street Design leaves Marin

Hudson Street Design, the residential remodel center on Redwood Highway in San Rafael, has closed its doors. The Healdsburg-based design outlet had been in various locations in Marin over the years before consolidating its operation in the San Rafael location.
Eric Ziedrich, president of Hudson Street, reports the company didn’t want to leave Marin. “The demographic should have been perfect for us,” he says, sounding a little wistful.
But, Ziedrich explains, the location suffered from a fundamental issue faced by many Marin businesses: “We couldn’t hold onto our staff. Most of them were coming down from Sonoma or Napa in that traffic, and doing that twice a day took its toll.”
Pointing to the twice daily occurrence of Highway 101 morphing from Marin’s mainstreet to a parking lot, Ziedrich says, “I’m not sure what can be done about it, but something has to happen. I know we aren’t the only business that’s struggled with this problem.”

Your Marin moment

Corte Madera-based Restoration Hardware CEO Gary Friedman is trying to light a fire under his employees, judging by a company-wide email that compared how Resto is performing to a building engulfed in a blaze, with its occupants on fire. The missive was leaked to Bloomberg and confirmed by the CEO. In the memo, replete with plenty of capital letters to symbolize the colorful exec shouting at his employees, Friedman complained that, while people talked about how the fire started and how long it might burn, “NO ONE WAS FOCUSED ON THE PEOPLE IN THE BUILDING WHO WERE ON FIRE. THEIR CLOTHES BURNING, MANY OF THEM DYING. WE HAVE LET OUR CUSTOMERS DIE.”
Resto reported poor financials in February, and the upscale furniture company blamed its woes on energy, oil and currency fluctuations as well as vendor issues and customer order cancelations caused by poor customer service. “We need a MASSIVE CHANGE IN OUR CULTURE AND ATTITUDE RIGHT NOW. THE GOAL IS DELIGHT.” He continued, “WE CANNOT AFFORD TO LOSE ONE SINGLE CUSTOMER, NOT ONE. YOU WILL NEVER GET IN TROUBLE FOR MAKING A DECISION TO DELIGHT OUR CUSTOMERS. YOU WILL HOWEVER, LOSE YOUR JOB IF YOU DON’T.”
The company declined to comment about how its employees reacted to Friedman’s warm message.



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