Depot Building Construction Update

November 19, 2019


City Manager Jim McCann reported at the November 18, 2019 Council meeting that the Depot renovation project will move forward. Construction activities will commence in coming weeks.

Revisions to the previously approved Construction Reimbursement Agreement and the Lease Extension Agreement (originally approved in April of 2018) will be considered by the City Council at the Dec 2, 2019 meeting. The Council is agreeable to providing a greater share of the construction costs to renovate and improve the centerpiece of the Depot Plaza, thereby enabling the Depot Bookstore and Café partnership to finalize their project financing and execute a construction contract.

“I am happy to see this progress,” Mayor Jim Wickham said. “The City has a strong interest in enhancing the Depot and to enliven the Downtown and the Plaza.”

Construction of the Depot renovations, including public restrooms, is projected to be concluded in 4-5 months.

Additional Information

In the coming weeks, Mill Valley Depot Bookstore and Café owner Paul Lazzareschi and his team will embark on a renovation of the City-owned building at 87 Throckmorton Avenue that it calls home. The project has two components: a renovation of the interior Depot space, bringing the historic building, including the restroom and kitchen, up to modern standards, as well as the construction of two public restrooms.

Mill Valley residents and visitors cherish the Depot and recognize its important role in Mill Valley’s daily life and community history. Through a collaborative public/private partnership, elected and appointed officials from the City Council, Planning Commission, and Parks and Recreation Commission have worked with City staff, Mr. Lazzareschi, and the project architects (Evan Cross and Kimberly Jessup) to arrive at a thoughtful plan that respects the historic integrity of the building with much needed plans to improve and enhance it.

The major elements of the renovation were approved by the Planning Commission and City Council in 2017 and 2018. A few final design details will return to the Planning Commission for final design review action. These final items include:

  • A freestanding awning structure over the seating area, on the Plaza side of the building.
  • A bulletin board or display case in the alcove adjacent to the public pay phone, on the Miller Avenue side of the building.
  • Removal of existing balloon awnings.

The approved modifications to the building include:

  • A new entrance facing the Plaza.
  • A new outdoor seating area (approximately 20 seats) on the Throckmorton side of the building.
  • New exterior paint, cleaned/refurbished roof tiles, and new gutters/downspouts.
  • Two new public restrooms, accessible from the east (parking lot) side.
  • Expanded office area to be occupied by the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce.
  • New drinking fountain and bike parking (south side near accessible parking).
  • Expanded kitchen to improve food preparation and reconfigured Book Store area.
  • New relocated interior restroom, accessible to the public and patrons.
  • Relocated office and storage space.

To address the long-standing need for public restrooms in the Downtown area, the City is collaborating with Mr. Lazzareschi and the project architects to construct two new public restrooms in conjunction with these building improvements. These restrooms will be placed on the east side of the Depot building, accessible to the public from the Plaza. The City will be responsible for cleaning and maintenance of the public restrooms.

The renovations will require several months of construction, and the community should expect typical impacts associated with a commercial remodel project. City building officials will coordinate the work and enforce construction management practices to mitigate disruption of the Plaza area and local access and parking during the construction period. Once underway, construction will take place during permitted construction hours Monday to Friday.

Community members can expect:

  • Temporary fencing surrounding the perimeter of the building and construction area.
  • Activity typical of a commercial remodel project.
  • A temporary mobile office for the Chamber of Commerce during construction placed nearby.
  • Reduced parking during the construction project: 
    • Three parking spaces near the building will be reserved for construction staging and access.
    • Three parking spaces on Miller Avenue near the Redwood grove (across from Piazza D'Angelo) will be occupied by a temporary Chamber of Commerce office.

We thank the community in advance for your patience and cooperation as we work with Mr. Lazzareschi and his team to embark on this exciting project. The Depot renovation project will enhance the appearance and function of this iconic and beloved building and community gathering space. Please see below for additional information.

Frequently Asked Questions

When will construction start and how long will it last?
The project team estimates that construction will start in the Spring and continue for approximately 6-9 months.

Will the uses change?
The permitted use of the building will not change. The Depot building will continue to serve as a bookstore, café (light food service with no waiter service), a venue for public events, and outdoor dining. The style and range of menu items and overall casual friendly cafe atmosphere is not proposed to change. After construction, the Chamber of Commerce will move back into the Depot and continue to occupy the space on the north (Throckmorton) side of the building.

What are the changes to the floorplan?
The bookstore floorplan will change to make the book store more visible and accessible to the public. New access doors from the Plaza will invite more traffic into the bookstore and allow mobile kiosks displaying books, newspapers, and magazine to be brought out onto the Plaza. Two short walls at the entrance to the bookstore will provide additional book shelf areas and a pocket door will allow the space to become private during a bookstore event. The kitchen will be slightly expanded to improve the ability to prepare food, and a new seating area on Throckmorton will create space for additional outdoor dining.

What about events in the Plaza such as Comedy on the Plaza and the Concert Series?

These events will still take place on the Plaza, with some accommodation necessary for the construction area, such as shifting the location of the stage and changing the seating.

Were the plans reviewed in relation to maintaining the building’s historic character?
Yes. The Depot building's designation within the H-0 Historic Overlay Zone establishes the building as a historic resource. The proposed modifications to the building were found to be appropriate by the City’s historical architectural consultant and approved at public hearings through a Design Review process by the Planning Commision and City Council.

Mr. Lazzareschi and the project architect also met with the Mill Valley Historical Society and had a robust and positive discussion about all aspects of the project. The discussion ranged from the much needed code compliance improvements to the historical review of the various changes and how they were developed to restore and enhance the building’s prominence and design integrity.

Where will the Chamber of Commerce go during construction?

Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce will relocate to a temporary mobile office a few hundred feet away from the Depot Building on Miller Avenue across from Piazza D’Angelo.Read more.

Additional information about the project’s history and public meetings.

Questions? Please contact:

Public Works Department
26 Corte Madera Avenue
Mill Valley, CA, 94941
Phone: (415) 384-4800

Project Architects
Evan Cross, Páhana Known Architects
Kim Jessup, Jessup Associates Architects
Bob Silvestri, Pro bono Conceptual Design Consulting