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New Plans Unfolding for Mills Restaurant Site

Architect shows off rough-draft plans for a new three-tenant complex between McDonald's and Shell station.

Plans for a new retail complex on Redwood Boulevard were mapped out last week during a meeting of the Novato Design Review Commission. But it’s not the discussion that’s been such a hot topic at city meetings; it’s the property occupied by , between and a .

The architect who worked on the , future home of and several retail/restaurant spots, showed designs for 7330 Redwood Blvd. where Mills is now.

Max Crome, principal of Crome Architecture in San Rafael, said his idea for a new three-building complex is to create “a dynamic retail experience” an attractive bookend between the gas station and 999 Grant. Tenants might include a coffee shop, some sort of eatery and a service-oriented retail store. He said he’d like to find a design style that relates to the styles incorporated into 999 Grant as well as the feel of Old Town.

“I’ve never heard of two bookends around a McDonald’s,” quipped Commissioner Patrick MacLeamy.

Crome said preliminary designs include a brick facade with a lot of glass plus steel canopies that might hang over walkways and some outdoor seating.

The reaction of the commissioners and public were that the mass of the project needs to be scaled back to better conform to the Old Town area and that the parking plaza needed some trees for shade and design accents.

A message was left with Mills Restaurant owner Osama Atallah regarding the fate of his operation.

Machin Avenue Renaissance

The next couple of weeks and months will be huge for the business community along Machin Avenue, a key north-south street in the heart of Old Town Novato.

, at the corner of Machin and Grant, is aiming for a 2012 opening — complicated by a and knocking down part of a wall — but we’ll see some new things popping up well before that.

The White Rose Ranch Store, specializing in gourmet takeout food and catering, is set to open Nov. 7 at 902 Grant Ave., right behind the antique store at Grant and Machin. The business will feature foods from Susan Lustenberger, winner of the recent Top Chef Marin contest. Dinners will be available from 4-7 p.m. weekdays.

Sometime in December, ’s tasting room will open up one block north at the corner of Machin and Sweetster. The debut will fulfill a lifelong dream for local native Andy Podshadley, who has already crushed nine tons of grapes at the former Tresch Electric building. The remodeling project is ongoing and the winemaking is moving along well, he said.

Bank of Marin Earnings Strong

chief exec Russell Colombo said he was pleased with third-quarter earnings of $4.2 million, a jump of 26 percent from that period a year ago. He said it can be attributed to high credit quality, the acquisition of a failed Napa bank and the opening of two Sonoma County branches.

Novato-based Bank of Marin Bancorp (NASDAQ: BMRC) reported total earnings of $12.2 for the first nine months of 2011 and diluted earnings per share of $0.79, up $0.16 from the same quarter a year ago. This year’s earnings include the impact of the federally-assisted takeover of partial assets and liabilities from the former , which got ironed out in February. That transaction boosted Bank of Marin earnings by about $1.6 million in the third quarter, he said.

“By investing in our branch network and operational infrastructure, including hiring senior-level talent, we are creating value for our customers, employees and shareholders,” Colombo said in a release.

Finance Workshop Offered by Chamber

A  will be presented by the Novato Chamber of Commerce's Business Education Committee on Thursday, Nov. 10 from
 7:30-9:30 a.m.
 at .

Speakers include 
., financial advisor with Edward Jones;
 Jerry Ghirardo of ;
 and Daryl Weinroth from the . They will discuss market volatility, the 2011 economy, 2012 tax law changes and estate planning.

The event is sponsored by Bill Hoopes, mortgage loan officer at PNC Mortgage.

Admission is 
$25 for chamber members
 and $35 for non-members. The registration deadline is Nov. 7. For more information, check the Novato Chamber of Commerce .

Danny Skarka October 27, 2011 at 08:43 PM
Thanks for the article. So....what about the old Pini? Ever and discussion about that?
Norma Dawson October 27, 2011 at 08:53 PM
Is there any info on the Pini Building?
VA Man October 27, 2011 at 09:06 PM
What about the eye sore across the road from McDonalds? Will anything ever be done to improve that low rent area? Who owns those rooms? who is the landlord?
Nette Frary October 27, 2011 at 09:18 PM
Mills is a thriving business, and we're talking about putting them out of business in order to build a new "retail complex" ??? I'm with the others, what about the old Pini Building? The apartments across from this proposed complex could use some cleaning up, low income renters should take more pride in their home, as should the landlord/owners of the property.
Sylvia Barry October 27, 2011 at 10:06 PM
Any picture of the building design that they are proposing?
Craig Knowlton October 27, 2011 at 10:54 PM
Maybe their lease is up? Why is everyone bringing up the Pini building and the apartments? How do they have anything to do with this?
Norma Dawson October 27, 2011 at 11:16 PM
The first poster was asking if there was ever any discussion about the Pini building at the Design Review meetings.
Susan Clark October 28, 2011 at 02:23 AM
The landlords live in a 2+ Million $ home on 3 acres in the Dominican Hills of San Rafael. Too bad they are slum lords. That place needs to be cleaned up and made liveable for it's tennats or it needs to be torn down.
Susan Clark October 28, 2011 at 02:24 AM
Pini's and the slum motel have everything to do with Novato. People have a right to know the statis of these buildings.
VA Man October 28, 2011 at 02:34 AM
Susan, do you have a name for the slum lords? Wonder why the city doesn't do something about it.
Worry October 28, 2011 at 02:45 AM
Mill's has been for sale for some time. Nette if the owners were thriving they wouldn't want to sell it. Perhaps they are thriving and they want to sell, take a profit and move on. That is their decision. If their lease is up and the owner of the property would rather sell than leave Mill's on it that is their decision as well. This is a story about a developer who is buying this property and developing it. We live in America where if you own a piece of property and adhere to the laws and regulations governing a sale or development you are permitted to develop it. We dine at Mill's regularly. We ate at Pierre's before it. We frequented the two restaurants there previous to these. We will miss it but will look forward to what the future holds here. The Misson Lodge, across the street, is a whole other issue as is the Pini building. Neither of these have any thing to do with this project and they should be addressed separately. I, for one, will spend my energy on addressing ill advised, potentially illegal, and wasteful projects like the city office project downtown. People the city is planning on spending $43 million dollars of your tax payer money (that is the cost including the bond interest payments) to build this office for 50+ part time employees. Shouldn't your focus be on these abuses?
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr October 28, 2011 at 03:18 AM
I am kind of sorry to hear about plans to replace Mill's. I like eating there. That site has been a restaurant since at least the 1960s. The owner of that property can certainly seek to maximize his profits, but there is already vacant office space in Novato. Mill's is a certain tenant. A "three-tenant complex" is a gamble.
Edwin Drake October 28, 2011 at 04:29 AM
But if we don't have density here, then where? Redwood can certainly handle it! It's a 101 alternate, and this site has little impact on Old Town. But, here comes ugly-ville.unless Design Review and the City Council hold the developers feet to the fire and demand amenities that will increase the attractiveness of this streetscape. Plus, this backs up (sorta) to the police station, and will probably be seen over that building and from the new, wasteful City Hall.
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) October 28, 2011 at 05:57 AM
Nothing to report on the old Pini building, but we can check with our sources again.
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) October 28, 2011 at 05:59 AM
A request was made with the architect at the Design Review Commission meeting and the morning this story was posted, but there were no drawings provided.
Tom S Baker October 28, 2011 at 11:36 AM
Lets see now Five stores closed on Grant avenue last month . Then you have Patrick MacLeamy with his comments. Wonder if he asked his wife which way he should vote on it. The only time Downtown will have a crowd is when they all close up and the copper wire thief s show up and fight for the chance to get some cash
Bob October 28, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Worry says " We live in America where if you own a piece of property and adhere to the laws and regulations governing a sale or development you are permitted to develop it." This is generally true except if you own a property that the City wants for low income housing, then the State through the City will tell you what you can build.
kai lancaster October 28, 2011 at 09:05 PM
I'm perplexed. 'The reaction of the commissioners and public were that the mass of the project needs to be scaled back to better conform to the Old Town area...' yet the City Administration building is rediculously out of scale for the location and is a 'modern' style building. So we require that private parties conform, but the city can do whatever they please.
Worry October 28, 2011 at 09:25 PM
Don't be perplexed Kai. Common sense, tax dollars do not apply to city projects. It is go along to get along on the city council. This cronyism extends to former city council members too. Both Gail Wilhelm and Susan Stompe (two ex council members) have spearheaded the effort to sell the council on this terrible project which will cost taxpayers $43 million. The council won't put it to a vote because they know it would be rejected by such a wide margin that the egg on their collective faces would be far too embarassing. Unfortunately the city council is operating under two patently false assumptions that Wilhelm has been stuffing down their throats. The first is that city offices will revitalize downtown. And two, that city offices must be downtown. Neither are true and 99% of the people here know it. The way many see it is there are two ways to stop this downtown project. Neither involve the current city council who are unwilling to listen to reason or are willing to exercise financial which they are charged with. The first option is to make sure that Leslie Shwartze, Eric Lucan & Eleanor Sluis get on the council. All three are FIRMLY against these downtown city offices. They could easily stop or slow this in Nobember. The second option is through legal channels. I believe this process has begun as there is a group addressing this with the Marin County Civil Grand Jury and also with the State of California and the agency that disbursed these funds to Novato.
Danny Skarka October 28, 2011 at 09:38 PM
Worry, In my opinion, city offices don't need to be downtown (the area is too small and offices are not revenue producing. The area should be left available where it can serve more people...shops, open space for farmers markets/fairs), but I'm a "quality of lifer" so I find myself usually at odds with City Council ideas. But I am open to listening to the opinion as to why city offices need to be downtown under a civil discussion.
David Randolph November 01, 2011 at 02:50 PM
We desperately need new blood on the city council. At least Dillon-Knutson is retiring, which is what I call a good start.
Nette Frary November 12, 2011 at 02:26 AM
Worry, I learned while having dinner at Mills last week that the same person who owns the property also owns the restaurant. All of the other sites discussed are relevant.

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