Living Green? Small Space? Check out the Space Saving Furniture!

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According to Kentfield, Marin county Architect, Sarah Robinson, an Alumni of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture; that Being Green is not just to tear down and build from scratch but it’s about “Seeing the untapped potential that already exists.”

“Green Living” is not limited to only use ‘Green’ products such as energy efficient appliances, water saving faucets, shower heads, toilets, bamboo flooring, recycled water, drought resistant plants, solar energy, double/triple paned windows, reuse building material, no VOC paint, and such.

Today, a friend of my shared a video of space saving furniture, which I thought would fit in nicely with green minded, sustainable living friends. these furniture has intelligent design where each piece of furniture has several purposes and fits in a tight space, are artistic an allow for smaller space thus reduce footprint of the new building design.

On a practical side, for friends or college kids who live in small apartments, houses, dormitories; these furniture allow them to have better quality of life while dealing with the tight space.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I do

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Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury Real Estate 
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frank Howard Allen Realtors 
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.   Starter Home to Luxury Property.  REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architectural Distinctive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange.

Millworks Novato Grand Opening brings New Dimension to Town!

mw_logo_rgbA controversial project due to the sheer size, the location and what it is and what it is not (a bit vague?  Ask me!), Millworks Novato had it’s grand opening today (April 25th).  What a pleasant surprise the development is!

As a Novato resident and a Realtor; although I missed the design, approval phases of the project; I, as many Novatans,  have watched with great interest and concerns in the progress of the building.   Today, I got to tour Millworks with my friend, Barbara.  We came away quite impressed!

Millworks – According to the developer, Millworks Novato is “Nestled among the North Bay’s rolling hills landscape, charming Old Town Novato is the home to Millworks, and environmentally sustainable and pedestrian-friendly new home community”. 

Millworks Novato

Millworks Novato

The building, sits atop the coming-soon Whole Foods,  located at the east end of Old Town Novato, consists of 124 flats and townhomes.  The homes are designed to be a combination of 1 bedroom/1 bath, 2 bedrooms/2 baths flats and 2 bedrooms/2 baths plus Den Flats. 

Amentities — Other than a few larger units on selected locations; first and second floors are mostly for Whole Foods and parking for Whole Foods and third floor is mostly for residents parking.  In addition, there is a library, a fitness center and a social room for gatherings.

millworksinterior

'Roof Garden - Living Roof' on 4th Floor

Roof Garden – One of the Millworks’ most unique design is the rooftop garden on the 4th floor where the interior units all have patios on the ‘Roof Garden’.  This Living Roof – centrally located with open sky courts – have living gardens and flag stone patiors, gives the 4th floor residents a sense of being on the ground floor which is a very appealing, surprising feature!

Views Galore – For outdoor lovers, the floor to ceiling windows brings tons of sunshine and the breathtaking surrounding Novato hill views inside.  I can only imagine how beautiful the night time views will be with the twinkling lights from the distance.

Kitchen and Living Room

Kitchen and Living Room

The Interiors – Millworks have open floor plan where kitchen opens into living and dining rooms (area – depending on plan).  Kitchens have granite slab counter tops, break fast bar, Bosch stainless steel, Energy Star appliances, Kohler sinks and faucets.  Bathrooms have Kohler faucets, Marble slab counters and surrounds on bathtubs.  Dual flush toilets conserve water.   All units are equipped with air conditioners (although I always say that we really don’t need that in Novato – the breeze from the ocean cools down most hot days by night).  Schlage hardware, recessed lighting, sustainable flooring, cable ready.

Green Features at Millworks

Green Features at Millworks

Building and Living Green – Millworks is also designed with ‘Building Green’ in mind as Sustainable is a big concern for environmental minded Marin Residents.  The building is designed with

  • Money Saving features such as emergency efficiencies while determining the direction of the building (South facing), insulation grades,  dual paned windows, doors, Energy Star appliances..
  • Preserving Health – such Cabinet doors are free of formaldehyde, none-toxic and low VOC Materials are used throughout
  • Environmentally Sustainable– Pre-engineered lumber, waste recycling during construction, Build-in recycling centers, sustainable flooring’s and cross ventilation windows are some example of the environmentally friendly design.

The Units and Pricing – One Bedroom / One Bath unit (812 sf to 883sf) starts from the low $400,000s; Two Bedroom / Two Baths Flats (1260 sf to 1360 sf) starts from the mid $400,000s and the Two Bedrooms, Two Bath plus Den Falts (1452 sf to $1595sf) starts from the high $500,000.  

HOA Fees – HOA fees ranging from $393 to $494 monthly.  An interesting chart provided by Millworks compares  HOA fee to the average single-family detached homowner’s regular maintenance cost per year, and of course, Millworks HOA seems more reasonable according to the chart – email me if you are interested!

Keep in mind the price includes standard features, and any and all upgrades will be additional costs to the buyers.

As a baby boomer and looking forward, I thought this will be a great place to retire – low to no maintenance, single story (elevator up/down), walk to town, new, green building, etc.  Having a Whole Foods downstirs works well also.   However, as a  young, single professional living in Chicago many years ago, I also enjoyed staying in downtown highrise for the amentities it provides (Millworks is not close to the 45th floor I was on before).  

Releases – The current plan the developer has is to release 10 homes at a time while gauging the interest ,control inventory and proper pricing. 

Tax Credit – And don’t forget the Federal First Time Homebuyer Up to $8,000 Tax Credit as well as the California State Up to $10,000 Tax Credit for purchasing new contrustions !

Interested in Checking out Millworks? – I enjoyed my visit to Millworks with Barbara.  Let me know if this stirs up your curiosity.  Please give me a call (415) 717-0293 or email me at sylvia@SylviaSellsMarin.comif you want to check out Millworks.  I would love to come with you and get your input about the building that changed the face of Old Town Novato, For Better For Worse, and hopefully, since it’s already here, we will make it ”For Better’ because that’s the only way we can all benefit! 

bg1a6

Kentfield Home Earned a Red Hot “Most Sustainable Renovation’ Award from Met Home

redhot According to Kentfield Architect, Sarah Robinson, an Alumni of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture; that Being Green is not just to tear down and build from scratch but it’s about “Seeing the untapped potential that already exists.” Kentfield, Marin County Architect, Sarah Robinson, was thrilled, when her house earned the ‘Most Sustainable Renovation’ Award from the prestigious Metropolitan Home Magazine. www.Methome.com

Robinson’s 1963 fixed-upper home incorporated the following winning features:

redhot1) Retain and Expand upon the original mid-century contemporaries design. Robinson’s usage of rich wood, glass, American clay plaster and copper echoed the ‘sensual surfaces’ from the outdoors. She also retained the original custom mahogany paneling and cabinetry.

redhot2) Resourcefulness- Adding 1200sf space (office, family room, extra bedroom) blow the building allows Robins the retain the original footprint of the building. Large dormer captures light and provides views of outdoors

redhot3) Usage of Reflective Surfaces Such as stainless steel, high gloss woods, glass cabinets, white ceilings makes the most of the natural light that streams into the space.

redhot4) Reused 80% of the original building material and incorporated with recycled materials from other sources – including reuse of the redwood framing from the attic for additional trim, exterior siding and new kitchen dormer. She also bought the seconds from a local tile manufacturer (Heath Ceramics in Sausalito).

redhot20090313__14finelivingxx_2005) Incorporated the outside environment to be the primary decorative feature for the home by using ‘floor-to-ceiling glass’, adding skylights and creating a large dormer to bring the outside in.

redhot6) Usage of Energy-Efficient Mechanical Systems Suchas soy-based form insulation, Eco-friendly American clay plaster, no-VOC paint and double-paned windows.

Footnote – I was contemplating about what to write for the RED HOT contest on ActiveRain eCO-All Star Group’s March challenge, and my upcoming presentation to my Rotary Club (of Novato Sunrise www.Novatosunriserotary.org  about LEED and Local Green Buildings, when the Marin IJ Article about Local Architect, Sarah Robinson’s winning design caught my eyes. This is an excellent, timely example of how to creat a “RED HOT” Eco-Friendly, Sustainable Home while thinking Creatively Outside of the Box.

The idea of not having to build an eCO-friendly building from scratch, using recycled, reused, local materials to avoid the commonly expensive GREEN features, which is the main concern in a heathy economy and a huge hinderance in the current dismal economy while creating stunning buildings in the process makes this RED HOT for me!

* The post incorporated information from Met Home and Marin Independent Journal. – a news article caught my eyes and just in time for the RED HOT entry!

“Yes, We Can” “Make it Right (ECO, Green)” for Marin County Flood Zone

I was asked by the Active Rain (Real Estate Blog Site) ECO-All-Star Group Leader to enter into the group’s January Challenge.   The goal of the contest is trying to determine how the ECO Green Design from actor Bad Pitt’s “Make It Right” foundation will benefit local homeowners.  

The entry did get the First Place in the very tight contest and was the Featured Blog for both the group and ActiveRain community 🙂

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465px-hurricane_katrina_august_28_2005_nasaNEW ORLEANS, LA

  1. It is now 3 and 1/2 years since Katrina’s 2nd landfall on August 29th, 2005 in Southeast Louisiana.  With the unprecedented economic downturn and the excitement of a new President and the New HOPE promised by President Obama, Katrina seems to be a distant past, a fading memory, something to be put on the back burner and forgotten.

Why should it still matter? – New Orleans had come back to life, Mardi Gras celebration goes on … But how can we forget the devastation and extreme destruction since Katrina slammed into New Orleans and the continued struggle200px-nola9thfloodedbetsy 9th Ward people have while hoping to rebuild their homes and start a new life? 

250px-hurricane_katrina_medical_evacueesBy August 31, 2005, eight percent of New Orleans was flooded; with some parts under 15 feet of water, thousands of buildings destroyed and the official death toll, according to the Louisiana Department of Health, was 1,464.   

Seeing the great loss, actor Brad Pitt formed the “Make It Right”foundation a year ago and presented lot owners in Lower 9th Ward with designs by 13 architects; basically allowing the homeowners to pick a design for their homes to be rebuilt by the foundation.

make-it-right-pic-2December 11, 2008, the “Make It Right” Foundation celebrates the completion of first six homes. These are not only a fresh start for homeowners but also become blueprints for LEED Platinum Certified, affordable, storm-resistant, and Green/ECO sustainable housing designs. 

The homes are built with sustainable wood cabinetry, non-toxic paints, and Energy Star appliances; as well as Green features that take these houses to the next level include insulation that makes them five times more air-tight than typical homes, photovoltaic systems, and groundwater heat pumps for both heating and cooling.  Looking ahead, separate plumbing lines were installed so owners can utilize their rain harvest systems if a current shttp://www.usgbc.org/displaypage.aspx?CMsPageID=222tate law banning rainwater for toilet use is repealed.

Heavily subsidized by Pitt’s foundation, the per-house budget of $150,000 is possible because of donated materials and services, including the architects’ designs.  The costs are expected to drop as more houses are built. The goal is to build 150 homes; Pitt’s foundation has raised money for 87 of them.

An additional $9,450,000 is needed to complete the remaining 63 homes at $150,000 each.  A speckle of dust comparing this to national debt; but a healthy chunk of money when money is scarce (unless you are Treasury with a printing press, of course)begreenfeelgolden1

MARIN COUNTY, CA

Back to my hometown, the Marin County – As Marin county residents (or California, in that respect), by the Very Nature of choosing to be part of Marin County, we are proud of being ECO, being GREEN, being environmental friendly and being Sustainable.  We want to be in the forefront of going Green and being Green! (see logo from San Marin High School for their Green Week event)

Marin has seen a few successful Green Projects. Boasting Cleanest Air in the Country, Novato (San Rafael 2nd, and Salinas placed 15th in Clean Air category) in Marin County, CA has three of the following four Green Projects (there are many more) –

phpthumb1) Dominican Convent in San Rafael received a Gold Certificate from the U.S. Building Council for the sustainable building (convent). The 6,200-square-foot, two-story shingle-and-stucco convent, built with strong lines and a vibrant brick-red exterior, takes full advantage of the latest pro-environment technology. It has rooftop photovoltaic panels, solar-powered attic fans and toxic-free insulation of reclaimed materials, . With programmable gas heaters in each room, the interior remains at a uniformly comfortable temperature, even with a floor made entirely from a mix of concrete and recycled fly ash.  Traffic flows were studied, Recycled furnishings were used, History was preserved.  

Dominican convent is the only environmentally certified convent in the world, right here in Marin.  

2) 10-4-07004Virginia Grove In Novato, Marin is the First None Public Funded Affordable Green Homes in Marin county and the Winner of the 2007 Award of Excellence for Smart Growth & Workforce Housing,138 points on the Build-It-Green scale, the highest ever in Novato.  This project combines attractive architecture, Green Development Practices and lower income affordable housing in a single-family environment.   Heralded by ABAG as “a model for regional planning”, the project includes bioswales, Grass-pave, ground-water recharge, a major tree-transplanting program, passive solar heating and cooling, pre-wiring for solar photovoltaic panels, sustainable, recycled and reclaimed materials on an infill property.  

chi_fp_oliveridge_sm_13) Olive Ridge, again in Novato, CA, on the other hand, is a Luxury Green Home development consists of 19 homes on large lots surrounded by 20 acres of open spaces.  

The homes meet the new Residential Green Building Ordinances for all single family homes and major remodels by City of Novato.  The ordinances addresses Green Issues such as using Natural Resources, conserve Water And Energy and improve Indoor Quality; use energy-efficient materials and techniques such as photovoltaic, solar panels.

20080613__firemans1_gallery 3). Commons at Mt. Burdell– A redevelopment of the current Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company’s property in North Novato (the north most part of Marin County) brings the first LEED Platinum certified project to Marin County.   Numerous neighborhood meetings and city planning meetings were held for neighbor and city input on the project. 

The project considers and implements plans for renewable energy, conserve and recycle water, noise reduction, indoor air quality, reuse, recycle, education, public transportation, and plans to achieve carbon-neutrality within 10 years.  A music will also be built for educational purposes.       

marin-flood-zone

Those are  examples of the existing and in planning Green Buildings in Marin County

FROM NEW ORLEANS TO MARIN

Looking at the designs for the 9th Ward and considering the challenges some the Marin county residents have, the “Make It Right” foundation’s design can benefit many of Marin Residents, especially for the ones who live in one of the 10 flood Zones in Marin County (o.k. don’t know what happened to Zone 2)novato-flood

The flooding happens every few years and can be devastating to local residents and businesses (see picture on the right for Novato Flood in the ’80s). 

Not only it is disruptive to lives and businesses, being in the flood zone also requires flood insurance for homeowners and has an adverse effect on the desirability of the homes and housing prices in the area. 

  • Flood Zone 1 – Novato Area, 
  • Flood Zone 3 – Mill Valley Area,   
  • Flood Zone 4 – Bel Aire Area   
  • Flood Zone 5 – Stinson Beach 
  • Flood Zone 6 – San Rafael Meadows  
  • Flood Zone 7 – Santa Venetia
  • Flood Zone 9 – Ross Valley (Corte Madera Creek)
  • Flood Zone 10 Inverness

Some of the features for the “Make It Right” homes will probably even benefit earthquake prone California – the stilts have to be able to withheld the surge of flood water, which shall be able to absorb some of the effects from an earthquake.

As we have learned from various sources, designing Green Buildings and acquire Green Material add a premium to the building of those homes, especially the LEED Certification, which can prove to be cost prohibitive to embark on related projects.  

THE SPIRIT OF SHARING

The idea of sharing the ‘Make It Right’ plan provides “a sense of working together to change the world”.  Being able to share the plan from 9th ward, one of the most economically challenged areas in the country with other areas in the U.S. provides both a symbolic and real meaning of working together and sharing; something to be encouraged and proud of! 

And remember, one of the most important features of Green/Sustainable are to RECYCLE, REUSE and to CONSERVE, same thing goes to building plans.

d_bnim_012Although some of the designs are hard to picture in Marin, but a few will fit right in (see the one on the left)!   

Now comes the difficult part –

moneysign3How Do We Fund all These – not talking about Marin projects, but the remaining Lower 9th Ward homes?

Well, last I checked…  there are currently 1,197,529 Realtors  registered with National Association of Realtors, 

As Realtors, we care about our neighbors, our fellow citizens and our country.  in short, WE CARE!  

The participation by All Realtors at a time of housing crisis to help complete the Lower 9th Ward project will definitely go a long way to show the nation that Realtors DO Care, which is something Money Can NOt Buy!   

hopeWith each Realtor donating $8.00;  we can raise more than enough for the 63 remaining homes.  The remainders can be used to improve the Lower 9th Ward! 

What better time to help with the Optimism of “HOPE” and “Change Is Coming” slogans and what a great time to cultivate Goodwill among All.  

To jump Start, Yes, Mr. Brad Pitt might just want to be the Goodwill Ambassador for NAR as his presence will certainly rally the participation and help all to accomplish this noble goal! 

 

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Real Estate
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frankk Howard Allen Realtors
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa. Starter Home to Luxury Property. REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architecural Distictive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange. Chinese Realtor.

Make Dreams Real – Rotary Club of Novato Sunrise Youth Services

How to Achieve Highest Recyclable Collection Rate in Marin County

As a Novato Resident, surrounded by Open Space, Natural Parks, Bay front; we are proud to be the city with the highest recyclable collection and lowest solid waste rate in Marin county.

The distinction can not be achieved solely by residents with good intention without the service provided by Novato Disposal Service

The Novato Disposal Service provides weekly pick ups of Green (Yard) Recyclables and Blue Recyclables (plastic containers, newspaper, bottles, jars, etc), Bi-Annual (spring, fall) large items, large volume and eWaste free-collections which the neighborhoods overwhelmingly participate and look forward to. 

The service utilizes plants with state of the art equipment to sort, accept and reject wastes, ensuring proper waste recycle to allow for most waste being processed.    

Their website provides timely guidance on recyclable plastics, cans, paper products; safely dispose of cooking oil, fluorescent lights, how to pack for lunches to produce the least solid waste; and where to dispose of hazard waste; etc.   

The Novato Disposal team also participates in chamber and school green activities; and Novato July 4th Parade, putting on a great waste collection routine to promote their recycle program.  

The latest improvement for Novato Disposal Service is the new Garbage Trucks they purchased, allowing for picking up both green and blue wastes on the same route; eliminating double pick ups and providing savings on resources (manpower, gas consumption, ozone depletion).

 

Not only is Novato Disposal Service mindful of local recycling programs, they also participate and donate generously to local schools.  They are the annual supporter for the local high school Safe and Sober Grad Night fundraising effort; where the high school helps residents in recycling their Christmas trees in exchange of a small donation to the worthy cause.  For a week after Christmans, the Novato Disposal donates huge derbris boxes and the drivers to transport and dispose of the Christmas trees.

 

For the ECO minded readers, I encourage you to go to their website to learn more about how to properly recycle and save the environment. 

 

Novato Recycling and Reuse Directories

 

Marin Hazardous and Solid Waste Guide

 

 

Novato Disposal Service – Highest Recyclable Waste Collection

As a Novato Resident, surrounded by Open Space, Natural Parks, Bay front; we are proud to be the city with the highest recyclable collection and lowest solid waste rate in Marin county.

The distinction can not be achieved solely by residents with good intention without the service provided by Novato Disposal Service

The Novato Disposal Service provides weekly pick ups of Green (Yard) Recyclables and Blue Recyclables (plastic containers, newspaper, bottles, jars, etc), Bi-Annual (spring, fall) large items, large volume and eWaste free-collections which the neighborhoods overwhelmingly participate and look forward to.

The service utilizes plants with state of the art equipment to sort, accept and reject wastes, ensuring proper waste recycle to allow for most waste being processed.

Their website provides timely guidance on recyclable plastics, cans, paper products; safely dispose of cooking oil, fluorescent lights, how to pack for lunches to produce the least solid waste; and where to dispose of hazard waste; etc.

The Novato Disposal team also participates in chamber and school green activities; and Novato July 4th Parade, putting on a great waste collection routine to promote their recycle program.

The latest improvement for Novato Disposal Service is the new Garbage Trucks they purchased.  hese new eco-friendly split-body vehicles decrease the number of trips through neighborhoods by one-third, while inside two separate compartments keep the materials separate. Collecting two materials in the dual compartment trucks decreased the amount of fuel and energy used, not to mention reduced traffic on highways and neighborhoods.  This allows for picking up both green and blue wastes on the same route; eliminating double pick ups and providing savings on resources (manpower, gas consumption, ozone depletion).

 
Not only is Novato Disposal Service mindful of local recycling programs, they also participate and donate generously to local schools.  They are the annual supporter for the local high school Safe and Sober Grad Night fundraising effort; where the high school helps residents in recycling their Christmas trees in exchange of a small donation to the worthy cause.  For a week after Christmans, the Novato Disposal donates huge derbris boxes and the drivers to transport and dispose of the Christmas tree.  ( Note – Please come back later for 2011 Christmas Tree pick info)
 
For the ECO minded readers, I encourage you to go to their website to learn more about how to properly recycle and save the environment. 
 
 

Commons at Mt. Burdell – Going Green, LEED Plantinum + Design

Novato Real Estate – For my Novato Neighbors and FFIC Friends

Background –

I recently (June 17th) attended a neighborhood presentation by American Assests, developer of the FFIC Site, about the proposed plan for their new project for the site – “Commons at Mount Burdell”.

I attended the meeting as a member of San Marin Improvement Association (SMIA) as well as a concerned Realtor who lives close to the project site and an ex-FFIC employee.  I have a vast interest in the project, for me, for my neighbors, for my friends and for our local community.  

I was probably the only one from SMIA, while most others were residents across from FFIC. 

Since this will have a major impact on our neighborhood, I have decided to share with you the information I gathered at the meeting.  The following are notes at the meeting.  In the interest of accuracy, I asked Ms. Margi Goodman,  representative of American Assets, to review the notes and have made corrections accordingly.  

To start with, from the information I received, I have created a graph with current FFIC topography and  American Assets’ “Commons at Mount Burdell” plan for comparison.   

Common at Mount Burdell and FFIC Current Facility
The Meeting –

John Chamberlain, CEO of American Assets, the owner of the site, was the presenter at the meeting. 

Since this is a project still being revised, please do check with the developer for details and updated plans (they are conducting meetings to get feedback from the community and will revise the plan if needed):

1. The project is called ‘Commons at Mount Burdell’, a place developed to serve the local community.  All the development is confined in the ‘LOOP’ – meaning the driveway surrounding FFIC campus with two entrances – West Campus and East Campus drive.

2. The plan is to keep and improve the three current FFIC buildings

3. The additional buildings will be built on the current parking facilities. All future parking will be underground with the exception of parking right in front of the center FFIC building, which they will keep as well as parkings for the two residential buildings.  Parkings for the two housing structures will be in the middle of the buildings and not visible from outside. 

4. There will be a new ‘world class’ hotel (similar to Sheraton Hotels) with a comprehensive health club (not a gigantic one but a luxury hotel quality facility). The health club will include swimming pool with possible retractable roof, weight room and will be accessible for FFIC employees.  (Note – Partridge Knolls neighbors wonder if they can get community membership)

The hotel will be located at the far east side of the property. The plan currently calls for a craftman style facility with 175 rooms, meeting facility, a large banquet room – capacity of 450, restaurant and the health club.  

5.  A residential facility in between the Hotel and FFIC building. The facility will house 150 units. The current plan is around 1/3 1BD/1BA units and 2/3 2BDs/1BA units. Rentals for 6 months to 12 months leases. All rental units will be on 2nd floor and up. 20% will be low income housing.

The first floor of the rental building will be shops and restaurants. Although after further inquiries (comments were there is really no need for restaurants and shops there), John said that the eateries will mostly consist of coffee shop, small stores, etc. for the hotel, apartment residents and office workers.

6. A few small office buildings will be built between the West Campus Drive and FFIC building. These will be built in the future pending needs.

7. They will donate a small parcel to Novato Rotary to build a community center.

8. The current ball park will increase in size. Some feedback is for multi purpose field. My personal feeling is that, the field and the community center for Novato Rotary, are part of what the developer wants to do to give back to the community and build local goodwill.  The exact plan is not clear at this point.  American Assets has contacted little leagues, etc, and will possibly be looking at a mixed use facility which they will build and maintain for local usage. 

9. The total projected usage will be for 5,000 people – the original maximum occupancy designed for the FFIC site. At the height of FFIC, there were 2,000 occupants and they currently have around 1,000 people on campus.

10. A big selling point is the green building aspect of the whole structure, hopefully a LEED Platinum (or exceeds Platinum) Certified complex. Platinum is the highest rating you can get from the LEED certification (Note – I did a research on this when making presentation at San Marin High School Green Week recently. So please do contact me if you need further information about LEED certification.)

11. Current FFIC buildings are up to 80ft tall.  The new buildings will be 40 feet at  most (most parkings will be underground).

If you are concerned, be sure to drive on San Marin Drive and imagine how it might look – which I do every time I drive by FFIC now. Good thing is that the trees at FFIC are more mature and the site sits lower than San Marin Drive.  My own feeling is that the new buildings might not be as intrusive as I first feared.  (Added 6/28- Also try to imagine how the site will look at night and when the leaves fall. It’s pretty dark now when you drive by, but it could be more lively at night with hotel, residential structures and community center. )

12. Per developer, they hope by doing this, they will be able to lower FFIC operating costs which will encourage FFIC to stay in Novato (there is always that speculation) and keep local employment rate up. With the new facility, they hope to attract other occupants, prevent the buildings from sitting empty and increase sales revenue for the city.

Major Concerns –

1. Traffic in and out of the site and how dangerous (per residents across from FFIC) it is currently and what it might do in the future. There are also concerns about the 101 interchange. Per developer, they are doing a traffic study including both and the plan will not go forward if 101 interchange needs to be improved – cost prohibitive.  In addition, the plan might change from Traffic Study Findings.

2. The effects on home values – opinions are divided on this. Some worried about what they will see out of their windows, some worried whether the residential units will affect the value of homes. Some thought the addition of world class facilities will add to home values.

3. Energy/water usage – see Green building plans

4. Views from residents who live on the hills across from FFIC

5. Noise level – from construction and from additional traffic

6. Secuirty (Added 06/28) – Another concern is the security of the site, especially the parking structures. The residential ones will be secured parking and public ones will have patrol – American Assets will be researching this.  

Design Review –

American Assets submitted the plan to the city on June 10th.  The city shall respond in 30 days after submission.  They will be conducting more neighborhood meetings to get feedback and anticipate revising plans from feedback received.   They will be going through Novato Design Reviews.  The high level time frame is estimated to be two years.      

Please make sure you attend future meetings for updated plans and let them know about your concerns. 

Comments –

I welcome your comments and do let me know if I have missed or misrepresented anything.  I will gladly make corrections. 

Updates and Meetings – (added 07/08) 

Ms. Margie Goodman has kindly agreed to keep me informed of updates and future meeting schedule so I can post them on this blog.   Please come back and check periodically. 

September 4, 2008 Update – The Fireman’s Fund meeting will be on Tuesday, Sept 9th at 6.30pm at the Nova Ro meeting room.  (From San Marin, take a right on Redwood Blvd, then take another right on Pinheiro Circle.  The meeting is at 31 Pinheiro Circle, upstairs in the mtg room.) 

The President of American Assets (John Chamberlin) will be there to show you the proposed project, listen to your feedback and answer any questions.   

Please bring neighbors along.
Thanks for your interest!
eMail Notices –  (added 07/08) 

Please email me at sylvia@SylviaSellsMarin.com if you would like to be notified of future meetings.

References –

1. City of Novato Planning Department – Redevelopment of the Fireman’s Fund Office Campus – including two PDF files for detailed information.  

2.  Marin IJ Article  This article basically talked about the Green building aspects of the project and did not touch upon the concerns of the neighbors who attended the meeting – mainly the additional traffic in and out of the campus with the new Hotel, residential units and office buildings. Note that the first picture showed the angle from Ball Park to the campus, but the truth is the green space on the proposed campus is much smaller.

3.  Novato Advance Article, June 11, 2008

4. Another Marin IJ Article – announcing the Sale.

Marin County Farmers Market Up and Running

Marin County Farmers Market - Courtsey of Marin IJMARIN COUNTY FARMERS MARKET SCHEDULE 

May marks the opening of most Marin County Farmers Markets, other than the newly approved Ross Farmers Market which received the authorization from the Ross Town Council on  4/10/08.

The Ross Farmers Market will run from 4 to 8PM, Thursday nights from June through September.  The market will begin after Ross School goes on summer break, to avoid traffic issues downtown. 

The following is the list of market and respective schedule as reported by local Marin paper, Marin IJ. www.MarinIJ.com

Corte Madera Farmers Market, Town Center courtyard in Corte Madera noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays year-round.. Call 382-7846.

San Rafael – Marin Civic Center Farmers Markets, by the lagoon Thursdays and behind the Civic Center Sundays, both from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round. Call 472-6100 or go to www.marinfarmersmarket.org.

San Rafael – Downtown San Rafael Farmers Market, Fourth Street between B Street and Lincoln, 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sept. 25. Fruits and vegetables, arts and crafts, baked goods and entertainment. Call 457-2266.

Fairfax Farmers Market, 124 Bolinas Road, 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through October. Call 472-6100, ext. 113, or go to www.marinfarmersmarket.org.

Larkspur Farmers Market, Larkspur Landing Circle at Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through September. Call 382-7846.

Novato Farmers Market, Grant Avenue, 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Sept. 30. Call 472-6100, ext. 104, or go to www.marinfarmersmarket.org.

Sausalito Farmers Market, Ferry Landing parking lot at Tracy and Bridgeway, 4 to 8 p.m. Fridays through October. Call 382-7846.