Planning Commission OKs Corte Madera Inn rebuild

Updated: Jun 2, 2018

POSTED: 03/23/16, 7:30 PM PDT | UPDATED: ON 03/24/2016

Author: Adrian Rodriguez

Publication: Marin Independent Journal

Owners of Corte Madera Inn have swapped their plans for a 185-room rebuild for a 174-room project instead. The New features were made in response to community and town official’s concerns. Courtesy of Reneson Hotels


The Planning Commission this week approved plans for the rebuild and rebranding of the Best Western Corte Madera Inn.

Representatives of Reneson Hotels, which owns the existing 110-room inn on 5.47 acres on Madera Boulevard, presented revised plans for a 174-room project with new design elements that they said reflect community concerns and the commission’s recommendations.

“This project is the best choice,” said Commissioner Dan McCadden of plans proposed Tuesday. “The building is pushed back with lowered height; it’s a big positive in the latest design.”

The new plans are the third iteration of the project that has been aired at eight meetings, including four Planning Commission hearings. The changes include a reduction of the proposed rooms from 185 to 174. The hotel would be dual-branded as Residence Inn with 103 extended stay rooms and SpringHill Suites with 71 traditional hotel rooms. Other key changes include a reduction in building height along Tamal Vista Boulevard from three stories to two and a scaled back floor area ratio — used to determine density — from 0.55 to 0.53.

A widened sidewalk, approximately 400-feet-long, along Tamal Vista Boulevard that would include a 4-foot-by-6-inch wide planted buffer with street trees also was included.

Eliminating the pond and restaurant is still part of the plan.

The commission unanimously approved the environmental report focused on traffic and pedestrian improvements.

The commission voted 4-1 on a series of administrative changes, with McCadden dissenting, saying he was concerned about backing the general plan and zoning amendment that would allow the hotel to be built at a higher density and make the property a designated hotel zone.

“Let’s create comprehensive regulations and procedures governing the Tamal Vista corridor,” McCadden said, adding that he would like to hold off until October when the development moratorium on Tamal Vista is expected to be lifted.

Commissioner Tom McHugh pointed out that because applications were submitted before the moratorium, town officials had agreed that the public process on the project would continue.

“It certainly would have been preferable if the town had the studies prior to the submittal of this application,” he said. “That didn’t happen. So here we are.”

Resident Peter Hensel, who had issues with design and plans to get rid of the pond, said he felt the commissioners had their minds made up before the hearing began.

“They were just moving toward a predetermined outcome,” he said. Hensel said there has been “a parade of testimony” and in looking at past hearings, “most were squarely against the project for various reasons.”

Bob Bundy, who has supported the project, said that a hotel is the best use of the property, and he didn’t want to see a developer buy out the site for commercial or office space use.

“I was very concerned that the commission was going to push forward too many concessions that it would result in it being sold,” he said. “I think we got an upgraded project from the usual SpringHill approach. It’s going to look good in Corte Madera.”

Commissioner Phyllis Metcalfe said, “They have really worked with us from the beginning,” and she thinks “the new design is really attractive.”

Chairman Peter Chase said the Town Council still has to give the final approval and he expects the applicants to continue to fine tune design elements throughout the process.

“We take to heart the community comments about change and the need to appropriate change balanced with general plan directives to continue to rehabilitate and improve the community,” he said. “And that’s specifically in the general plan — and it’s something we are expected to do.”

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