Just before Thanksgiving, work got underway over at the Gateway Shopping Center. Whole sections of existing planting were cleared to make way for new landscaping, with a few select trees left in place. The former Best Buy was given a quick coat of spray paint (the developers’ equivalent of a spray tan?) in preparation for modifications to become our local Target.
Speaking with the project supervisor for the landscaping, hardscaping and tower refurbishments, the work will progress in phases, with the entire project to be completed by April. Phase I is the area shown, followed by Phase II (Starbuck’s area) and Phase III (over by Panda Express). We should really start to see changes after New Year’s Day. It’s currently easy to see the areas benefitting from new planting as these areas have been taken straight down to the ground.
As much as I’d hoped for the mall to be completely turned inside out—whether for a Main Street or Town Square feel, that is not likely to the the case. The group managing the mall has talked about adding another building in the middle somewhere (which would go miles to mitigate this feel of a giant parking lot with most of the stores lining the periphery) but that idea is currently on hold. What we will see will be a refresh, an attempt to revive the area—not just with bigger stores (like Target), but also through a friendlier feel, thanks to fuller planting and a bit more shade. A breath of fresh air.
The towers will be revamped—resided and repainted. The use of downlighting and backlit decorative mesh panels in the towers holds the promise of transforming what currently resemble medieval fortresses into glowing lanterns. Cohesive signage throughout the mall should help with the overall look and feel. Bollards and maritime elements? These are a few of my favorite things.
Planting will be drought tolerant, and more varied than currently exists. Palms (Washingtonia), and Arbutus Marina (Strawberry) trees will provide some height, while the latter will add a bit of spark with its peeling red bark. Pony Tails (Stipa) grasses, Phormiums (Flax), Agave… these are just a few of the plants I remember from our chat. Nothing earth shattering, but a pleasant revamp, nonetheless.
The most unexpected news was hearing of plans for a beer garden. Tucked into a corner nearby Target, but closer to the entrance by the library—and flanked or overlooked by one or several eateries—management is keen on creating an area for people to sit outdoors and relax. A destination and a place to linger. That is definitely a change.
For more information on what we can expect, read this Marin IJ article by Mark Prado: