Plans in Works for Bigger Gas Station and Store at Square Shopping Center

Application from Fremont company includes a 24-hour convenience store of 2,900 square feet.

The west side of Novato does not have a 24-hour convenience store, which means residents out there have to head downtown to the or the on Diablo Avenue to satisfy late-night snack attacks.

But there is proposal to demolish the at the Square shopping center on Novato Boulevard and rebuild it with a larger 24-hour convenience store. Tentative plans will be reviewed publicly Monday night.

Residents near the Square, a maligned and half-empty center that serves Novato’s western neighborhoods, received notices in the mail of a meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the , 1915 Novato Blvd.

The city has received applications from AU Energy of Fremont to demolish the existing gas station and convenience shop and start from scratch on a 2,900-square-foot market with 400 square feet of office space on a second floor accessible from an external staircase. The existing building at the site is 2,112 square feet.

Comments and input will be heard but no decision will be made for either the requested design review or use permit.

Although the West Novato Shell station at 1390 Novato Boulevard is associated with the Square shopping center, it is a separate property with a different owner, said city planning manager Elizabeth Dunn. City staff hopes Monday's session will not turn into a debate about the future of the Square.

The location is about 1 1/2 miles west of the nearest 24-hour convenience store.

The proposal would need to go before the Design Review Commission to move forward, Dunn said, and a request to sell alcoholic beverages at the site requires a use permit, which can be approved by the city's zoning administrator. However, Dunn said city staff might suggest that the proposal be heard by the Novato Planning Commission.

It would be January at the earliest when the plans would be placed before the Design Review Commission, and it might have to go back before that panel if the initial introduction comes in the form of a workshop. If things move along smoothly, the zoning administrator could rule on the alcohol use permit by February or later, Dunn said.

The Square is anchored by a and a handful of small businesses. A grocery store operated there for decades but has been vacant for several years. The 6.4-acre property was on a list of potential housing developments that would help the city of Novato meet state housing mandates, but the Novato City Council bypassed the site for the most current (2007-2014) general plan update.

Born & raised November 22, 2011 at 02:52 AM
Go For It! When it comes to the square, any news is good news. Side point: Will Teddy Atell owner of Henry's Burgers ever clean up his unpermitted sign on Wilson? Probably not.
Trish Boorstein November 22, 2011 at 04:01 PM
Brent, last night AU Energy of Fremont said it is open 24 hours a day. The point of interest is whether, if they get their license to sell Alcohol (beer and wine only), they will sell Alcohol 24 hrs. a day. Many residents expressed an interest in closing Alcohol sales at 10 or 11pm, while the remainder of store stays open. Also discussed was the Alcohol component. There are already many alcohol vendors in the Square. As far as the design is concerned, it may be prudent to review it carefully since it will set a precedent for any possible future design style of the Square (ie Spanish like Hamilton Safeway, contemporary like Paradise Market in Ignacio, etc.). This would be the time to make any style requests of the Architects.
Dave November 22, 2011 at 04:24 PM
What is going on with the gas station at Redwood Blvd and Olive?
Lloyd November 26, 2011 at 05:27 PM
When was the last time you saw a stand alone convenience store with a second story. Also the footprint of this project will be almost 50% larger than the current site. This convenience store will become redundant if the owner of the "square" decides to stop punishing the residents so he can have his high density housing project approval. They seem to be willing to turn this into a ghost town for their corporate interests (can you spell greed). BTW aren't all the Shell stations in town owned by this one company? that could be why gas in SF and Southern Marin is cheaper then the monopoly prices we are being charged here. Just curious.
Steven Norwin November 26, 2011 at 06:01 PM
There already is a gas station and a mini food/grocery there. Why do we want to open it up for 24 hr activity when our police service has been cut? This will equal to more of our tax dollars being spent fighting crime. Can't we learn from the 7-11 on Diablo. Not too many people are out roaming Novato at 3am...If so, there's always safeway for emergency milk & cookies and the city for late night time entertainment.
Lloyd November 26, 2011 at 06:42 PM
Steve the simple answer is we really don't need it. The Shell owner sees a profit opportunity to expand their operation and increase the value of their holding.
Lloyd November 26, 2011 at 06:48 PM
BTW by allowing a second story to the commercial use the City will be opening the way for big time expansion for the Square. After all how can you say no to 2 or even 3 stories and it is such a reach to make the upper stories for housing rather than offices? I am not saying I am against housing however it seems wrong to reward the Square for being such a poor corporate neighbor by giving them what they have wanted all along through this back door. Do we really need the 400 sf of 2nd story officer space that badly? Should the owner of the square be rewarded for destroying the viability of a shopping center and harming all those that benefited from that center by forcing business out?
Lloyd November 26, 2011 at 07:39 PM
PAP have we touched a nerve? Seems you are the one being rude and intolerant of others. Have a nice day.
Mrs. C November 26, 2011 at 08:09 PM
You really can't blame the store for the 7-11 problems. It is the low lifes that live and hang out in that area that are causing the problems. I personally do not see it as a problem to have a mini mart on this side of town. CVS closes early and it would be nice to run down and pick up a carton of milk, instead of having to drive an extra few miles to Safeway. And if the Shell owner wants to invest his money to make a profit - go for it. Isn't that what having a business is about? I would rather see them invest in making improvements than just having another vacant business in the area.
Steven Norwin November 27, 2011 at 12:01 AM
@Peak a punch - You should try taking you own advice. BTW..I would hate to see how you treat your family..... Shhsshh!
Susan Clark November 27, 2011 at 12:11 AM
Mrs C, Safeway is just a mile and a half away from the Shell station. We can't encourage a 24 Hr - liquor selling mini mart in every strip mall in town. Let's be thankful there are numerous 24 hr. stores in Novato (be careful what you wish for).
Roger November 28, 2011 at 03:41 PM
Lloyd, I heard before that the land owner wanted to go for AH. It just shows what a draw those tax credits are for people with big cash flows to offset. In this economy I guess "government" projects are one of the few things happening.
Lloyd November 28, 2011 at 05:11 PM
Mrs. C - I'm fine with the convenience store. I was commenting that the larger footprint size, look at the site, might be overbuilding the site. The comment about a second story is much more important. That sets a new precedent to that local commercial look. As Roger commented, I have also heard that the owners of "the square" shopping center have been intentionally running that center into the ground to create an atmosphere of something needs to be done. According to the City staff this owner has passed up redevelopment funds to improve this site preferring to get a new zoning and market the site as a 3 story commercial with 2 story AH housing above. They have intentionally forced businesses like sourdough pizza out to accomplish this plan. Therefore we need to be very careful of setting any precedents for multi story with that location. As for having Shell invest, no problem if the proposal fits the site and is one story only. It seems the cost of a second story for 400 sf are unnecessary given the possible consequences of that component. We just went through a very long and contentious process to all agree that the square site with a gas station next door is not a good candidate for AH. This owner doesn't care and continues to try and force this change by punishing the local businesses and community.
Ronald Kornblow February 14, 2012 at 03:32 AM
It's all a red herring. The 2nd story of rentable office space is bogus. something to give up when the time comes. You want to rent office space above a convenience store and gas station? Not likely.


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