Novato panel backs Hanna Ranch hotel-restaurant project

Updated: Jun 2, 2018

POSTED: 11/16/17, 7:10 PM PST | UPDATED: ON 11/18/2017

Author: Adrian Rodriguez

Publication: Marin Independent Journal

The Hanna Ranch property next to Highway 101 in Novato. (IJ photo/Alan Dep)


The Novato Design Review Commission is recommending approval of the Hanna Ranch commercial project proposed for a 20-acre site south of the Vintage Oaks Shopping Center near Highway 37.

The unanimous vote Wednesday came with a request that plans presented by Pacific Star Capital of Santa Monica would return to the commission to work out final details, such as materials and landscaping features, said Steve Marshall, Novato’s planning manager.

The Hanna Ranch project is expected to be presented to the Planning Commission by late January for recommendation to the City Council.

“The (Design Review Commission) had a really healthy debate about the project, in particular over ‘Building C,’” which is proposed to be an office and retail building at the center of the development, Marshall said.

Marshall explained that there has been ongoing concern about the height and overall mass of that building.

The project is a mixed-use development that has seen several iterations since first gaining city approval in 2011.

The project includes a 125-room hotel, standing 56 feet and 6 inches. There would be three restaurants, including two 2,700-square-foot eateries and one 5,758-square-foot restaurant. The office and retail building would be about 26,200 square feet. There is also a proposed Costco gas station.

A project this size would require at least 437 parking spaces, which is 16 more than proposed.

The updated plan eliminates building encroachment into a 50-foot wetlands buffer adjacent to the pond at the Beverly Ehreth Ecological Nature Preserve.

Some residents have voiced concerns about traffic and gasoline from the Costco fueling station contaminating the nearby water features, Marshall said.

The applicant’s original plan received a warm reception when presented to the Design Review Commission in 2009. Later, however, residents criticized the plan, saying it should include affordable housing.

A majority of council members rejected the housing plea, saying the area was inappropriate for housing, partly because of its isolation from other neighborhoods.

The council approved the development in a 3-1 vote. Councilwoman Pat Eklund voted against the final stretch of approvals for the original project, saying the development was “too intense” for the site.

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