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Developer Grosvenor incorporates history, energy efficiency in key Novato project

Today’s shopping centers are a lot more than just places to buy things.

Forward-thinking developers are including fountains, sculpture, fine art, historical murals and displays depicting local points of interest to attract consumers as well as environmental assets to increase customer satisfaction and encourage repeat business.

Hamilton Marketplace at 5800 Nave Drive in Novato is a good example of this new breed. Completed in August 2008 with a total ground-up construction cost of $18 million, this 90,000-square-foot marketplace occupies an eight-acre site across the lagoon from the former Hamilton Air Force Base.

“Work began on Sept. 7, 2007, almost a year to the day before we finished,” said Greg Schank, project manager for Midstate Construction Corp. of Petaluma, the general contractor for this project.

“One of the first things we had to do after breaking ground was to bring in more than 27,000 cubic yards of fill to prepare and level the site before construction could begin. We worked closely with the city of Novato and community leaders each step of the way. The entire process moved quickly, and work was completed ahead of schedule. This marketplace has received a number of compliments from those who consider it to be a ‘well-executed’ development with a number of unique and outstanding value-added features.”

Two large, pre-cast concrete fountains with granite bowls serve as centerpieces. They are embellished with rustic tumble-tile, a mural and a gaggle of brass ducks placed in and around the water basins. Brass duck footprints are also found leading up to the fountain inviting visitors to follow the trail. Travertine arches at key entrances to the center provide a welcoming and spacious approach.

Murals depicting a Mission-style church and scenes of the nearby delta wetlands are on display at the center. Designed for the community, these murals – along with the fountain – were part of an initiative generated in cooperation with the city of Novato.

There are many wrought-iron features throughout the site plus canopies and wooden trellises to add points of interest. Red tile roofing with an irregular placement covers the center. Graduated elevations break up the uniform appearance of larger buildings forming individual facades.

About 55,000 square feet of the total useable interior space has been leased by Safeway with the remainder of the property shared by Wells Fargo Bank, Peet’s Coffee, Pet Food Express, Pasta Moto restaurant, Sonoma Latina Grill, La Boulange bakery, Yogen Fruz yogurt, Toast Restaurant, Alpha Cellular and other tenants that together make up the total 16 stores and boutiques. Today Hamilton Marketplace is 92 percent leased.

The marketplace has a 35.4 kilowatt solar energy system on the roof. Installed by SolarCraft of Novato, it supplies common area power needs and reduces demand for commercial electricity.

Significant site and utilities infrastructure is in place to process water through a progressive storm drain. Bio swales and soil-based-material filters allow water to permeate and replenish the water table. During periods of heavy rain, a detention pipe system holds water, allowing gradual release. This reduces the possibility of overflows through the culvert and drain system and helps to prevent the delta from flooding.

Special emphasis was placed on the use of color combinations on exterior surfaces to present an aged appearance. A time honored hand-trowel process was used to create an antique patina on external arches and walls. It involved applying several layers of smooth stucco stained with yellow and umber tints that are later brushed out to complete a rich, old-world effect.

“Grosvenor is an international property group that is active in some of the world’s most dynamic cities,” said Don Capobres, senior development manager with Grosvenor, owners of the Hamilton Marketplace. “Although we are internationally minded, we recognize that our future success as a business is tied to the sustainable growth of communities in which we have a presence. We have a vested interest in the future shape of the landscape of the community and aim to help create attractive and vibrant places in which people want to open businesses, shop and spend time in. Hamilton Marketplace is good example of this approach to development.”