A few days ago, Novato Patch found out that the owner of The Square Shopping Center at Novato Boulevard and Wilson was getting ready to submit plans to the city to redevelop the 33,000 square foot property.
Novato residents have long complained about the rundown commercial strip, where a third of the units are vacant.
According to the city’s Economic Development Director Chris Stewart, owner Jeffry Chang, a Novato native who now lives in Mountain View, wants to reduce the amount of commercial units and convert the rest to mixed use or possibly housing.
That prompted a lot of feedback from readers, who chimed in with dozens of ideas for a new and improved Square Shopping Center.
“Someone needs to tell the owner about Oliver's,” said Patch reader Elizabeth Jones, via our Facebook page. “They are trying to expand! It's a great place to work and is a local area chain (currently has three stores in Sonoma county).”
Other ideas included a “PG sports bar,” (not sure how that one would work), a bookstore, bowling alley, a roller skating rink or some other form of family entertainment.
One thing was clear: Novato residents are unequivocally opposed to any more housing in the area, low-income or not.
But may fear that is exactly what Chang has planned, citing a pattern of rents that have been continuously raised when a tenant’s lease expired and something the city has no control over.
“The complex has always been a vital hub for West Novato,” said Baron Desmond Crisis, who grew up nearby. “The only reason that it's useless now is the landlord is on a campaign to kill it. Someone needs to just buy him out and do the right thing. Housing is not needed in that area.”
Chang is currently traveling out of the country and messages left at his office and with his attorney were not returned. A request to send an email to his office to be forwarded to him was also declined.
Are you concerned that The Square Shopping Center will be converted into housing? Should the city strongly urge the developer to build something else?