MILL VALLEY – The Tamalpais Commons housing and retail development under construction along the Miller Avenue major thoroughfare of this small southern Marin County city is set to be a certified green project.
At its anticipated completion late this year, the 21-unit development at 505 Miller Ave. will have features that could qualify it for certification under the Build It Green GreenPoints project-rating system used by many North Bay governments as a standard for residential green building.
Green-building features include site reuse – replacing the long-shuttered Hillcrest Convalescent Hospital – photovoltaic power, swapping concrete hardscape for permeable paving and landscaping designed to filter rainwater heading toward adjacent Arroyo Corte Madera.
“I think it will greatly improve the Miller Avenue corridor in Mill Valley and provide a new ‘hub’ for working, shopping and dining while also providing new living options for a town needing more available housing,” said Kristin Silmore, a Mill Valley resident and spokeswoman for the locally based developer, House Properties LLC.
For the past two years the city of Mill Valley has been studying revitalization of 1.8 miles of Miller between Sunnyside Avenue and Camino Alto. In its Miller Avenue Precise Plan, the city analyzed the corridor as four “rooms,” or segments with related characteristics.
The plan, which was designed to envision development along the corridor over three decades, has been challenged by some community groups over how much growth would be allowed so as not to detract from the small-town feel of the city.
Since the project was first floated in December 2004, the developers of Tamalpais Commons received feedback on the project from such groups and neighborhood associations and altered the project. For example, after talking with neighbors about privacy concerns, the buildings set back from Miller Avenue were limited to two stories and ground-floor porches.
Tamalpais Commons is part of the Gateway “room,” which the city says gives visitors arriving from Highway 101 their first impression of the city.
That key location attracted an undisclosed restaurateur to secure lease commitments for three of the commercial units fronting on Miller, according to Mike House of co-developer House Properties LLC of Mill Valley. “We’ve signed a very well-known and successful local restaurant owner who plans to develop a casual, family-friendly concept,” he said.
Another retailer is interested in leasing two other units, and a third potential tenant wants to lease the remaining unit. The asking triple-net rent for the space is $3.46 a square foot.
Tamalpais Commons will have 21 homes, five of which will fit state rent requirements for affordable housing. Four 1,020-square-foot live-work lofts are in a three-story, 15,000-square-foot mixed-use building along Miller, located above the retail units. Also part of the project are five single-floor condominiums in a building situated back from the street and 12 single-family homes.
Rents range from $1,400 a month for the two studio units to $4,500 a month for the 1,600-square-foot single-family homes. Currently, more than 50 people are on the waiting list for rentals, according to Ms. Silmore. The residential portion is set to be done around the end of this year, and the commercial spaces are scheduled to open by March 2010. The other developer is Skyline Pacific Properties LLC, a real estate investment firm in San Francisco.