Only in Marin
Of Malls Mergers and Going to the Dogs / by Bill Meagher / December, 2017

Merlone Geir Partners, which owns the Northgate Mall in San Rafael, would like to know how you feel about the place?

More to the point, they would like it if you felt the shopping center was a place you could call your own, a place for everyone to hang out.

The investment firm that bought the mall in January did a survey to help them “elevate” the mall and since the mall is a neighbor and I am a neighborly type of person, I took the survey. It covered some standard areas, how often you visit, why and what do you buy.

But the best question was what’s most important to you and it included choices like ambiance, concierge services, gathering spaces for community groups and walking areas and/or green spaces.

Clearly, I’m out of touch with shopping centers. I thought they were places where you bought stuff.

Further south in Corte Madera, story poles were raised in the Village at Corte Madera parking lot in back of the current Restoration Hardware store depicting the scale of the proposed new Resto store. The new store if approved would be 46,000 square feet, and would include a café, a rooftop conservatory and will displace 180 parking spaces. The mall would relocate the spaces to a dirt lot across the street. 

Restoration Hardware has two other stores in the mall, which would close. The new store would include all of Resto’s brands, RH Interiors, Small Spaces, Outdoor, Baby and Child and RH Modern.

The luxury furniture company’s CEO Gary Friedman promises the new store won’t be just another retail store. “We don’t build retail stores, 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.”

If that doesn’t make you want to buy a couple $10,000 sofas, seek medical care.

Orphan disease company grows family

Ultragenyx made a surprising move to leapfrog into a merger deal that should close by the end of the month. The Novato-based company focused on developing therapies for rare or so-called orphan diseases and blew up a proposed merger between Dimension Therapeutics and Regenxbio Inc. That deal called for Regenxbio to buy Dimension at $3.41 a share or $85 million.

But while the deal was still pending, Ultragenyx made a bid for Cambridge, Mass.-based Dimension at $6 a share, almost doubling the offer from Regenixbio and sent it packing. Ultragenyx is on the hook to pay Regenixbio a $2.85 million break-up fee on behalf of Dimension.

Ultragenyx was founded by Emil Kakkis, the former chief medical officer of BioMarin and it’s the second orphan drug company founded in Marin, behind BioMarin. 

An orphan drug designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration means a drug has a patient population of less than 200,000. It gives qualifying drugs tax credits for clinical testing as well as exclusive rights to market and sell the approved drug for seven years. 

Your Marin moment

Marin is known far and wide for its love of nature and animals. So it was a bit of a mystery when neighbors in the neighborhood that hosts Albert Park and Davidson Middle School snapped their leash over a proposed canine hotel.

An 8,400 square foot warehouse on Lindaro Avenue is slated for a new location of 200-dog grooming facility and boarding emporium after the planning commission voted 5-1 to deny an appeal by neighbors to stop the doggy daycare center, ignoring a neighborhood petition with 16 signatures opposing the project.

The operator of Lafayette’s Tail Haven Hotel & Day Lounge, Emily Ronnow, wants a Marin outpost to pamper pooches. 

But some neighbors were miffed, and by miffed I mean growling and kind of showing their teeth, according to accounts of the meeting.

So let’s play a game. Here are three quotes, two from the meeting, and one that I have made up. Can you pick out the real quotes? Answers at the bottom of the page.

“This current consideration is horrifically the worst possible choice. Noise of barking dogs, however muffled, will be a sound that will engulf us residents forever, every day and night, seven days a week.”

“What happens when somebody goes to sell their house, and has to explain what that smell is about and why those howls are going on? This is going to cost me money.”

“There‘s the smells from all the odors, the whole environment will change.”

Bill Meagher lives in San Rafael and is a contributing editor at this fine publication. He is also an associate editor for the Wall Street-based financial news outlets The Deal and TheStreet, working out of the west coast office in San Francisco. In the proudest tradition of the War on Christmas, he wishes you the happiest of holidays.

Answers: A and C are real. B is fake news.