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Plan calls for hundreds of homes in Corte Madera

Submitted by News Desk on Sun, 08/03/2008 - 10:00pm

Hundreds of new homes could be built as part of a long-term vision being considered in Corte Madera.

A draft Corte Madera general plan that includes proposals to add 300 housing units as part of an expanded shopping mall at The Village at Corte Madera and 180 units at the WinCup plant site near Highway 101 is up for review at public hearings this month.

A draft environmental impact report also has been prepared for the plan, which offers a tentative road map for growth over the next 10 to 20 years with a variety of early stage possibilities for the town to expand its retail and housing options.

Robert Pendoley, the town's planning director, said among those options is a proposal to add 185,000 square feet of retail space along with 300 housing units at The Village on Redwood Highway.

Because The Village proposal would involve a rezoning that also would apply to Corte Madera Town Center, the plan could allow the Town Center commercial area to double in size - even though Town Center representatives say they're not interested in expanding.

"What the EIR does, it considers allowing the shopping centers to expand and consider allowing them to expand with housing," Pendoley said. "The (environmental report) finds that the plan has potential adverse impacts to the environment. Basically what it focuses on is the job (and) housing balance," which he described as disproportionate.

Robyn Young, a spokeswoman for Santa Monica-based Macerich Co., which oversees the Village, said the company has no immediate plans for expansion, "but it's important for us to have that flexibility in knowing what we could do down the road."

Also, Town Center has no expansion plans because there's no room, said Stan Hoffman, shopping center general manager. He said expansion would have to be atop existing buildings, which are not capable of supporting such construction.

Jim Helfrich, who owns the property on which the WinCup industrial plant has produced Styrofoam cups for decades, said the site at 135 Tamal Vista Blvd. is ideal for mixed-use development. The plant would be replaced with 10,000 square feet of retail space and 180 housing units.

"The city is hoping to identify gateways into Corte Madera, and this is one of the access points we hope to dramatically improve," he said. "The idea is to provide housing in Marin County that is at the transportation hubs and in this case, abutting (Highway) 101 provides public transport into San Francisco and into the north county as well as having public transit at the front door.

"This is the type of development people have been espousing for many years."

Pendoley said the town also must address a state mandate to provide 244 affordable housing units.

"You have to look at innovative approaches like mixed-use housing to make that happen," he said. "It's very, very difficult. You need just the right set of circumstances for a property to be redeveloped. Those opportunities don't come up very often."


Public hearings on a draft of the Corte Madera general plan will be at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Corte Madera Recreation Center at 498 Tamalpais Drive, and at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28 at Corte Madera Town Hall at 300 Tamalpais Drive. For more information, call 927-5064 or visit

Read more Corte Madera stories at the IJ's Larkspur, Corte Madera section.

Contact Jim Staats via e-mail at