This comment has been sent to the Town of Corte Madera and Axis AIA, architects, regarding the latest proposal to construct a Marriott Residence Inn, to replace the existing Corte Madera Inn.
I regret the presentation had to conflict with the VP Debate, and appreciate the prompt posting of video of the event. This project has had countywide interest and participation, deservedly so for such a highly-visible and accessible site.
I live in San Anselmo, but feel the impact as a taxpayer and driver of both 101 and the local Corte Madera streets.
Welcome to Cory Creath and Ruari O’Connell of Axis/GFA who seem aware of the value of working with the community, especially in a project where quid pro quo will rule the outcome. I think many people are eager to learn what will determine the character of this proposal: will the site's attributes govern the ‘look’ or will corporate branding take over?
The addition of forty rooms in four stories with emphasis on meeting sites, lobby focus, planned massing, and residential stays but no restaurant seem to indicate corporate interests and the bottom line will win. Too bad: a boutique hotel with fine restaurant would have been more in keeping with community hopes. This project foundered on profit over community last go-round; I hope the history does not repeat.
The Pond: It is good you have heard the message about the pond ‘loud and clear’. However, Slide #33 seems to show the most open and potentially interactive vistas of the pond will be crowded by the four-story building and parking. More rooms means more cars, and no restaurant necessitates more traffic circulation throughout the site.
Community Integration and Public Realm: Losing both the restaurant and community pool is a regrettable turning away from the interests of local neighborhood. A fifteen-foot sidewalk will not replace those and indicates a non-community focus. I hope you will think carefully about what benefits replace those lost assets. You may be sure others will. This is where the character of the project will be defined and accepted or rejected. Four stories and added density is a big ask.
The concerns expressed about the dangers of vehicular and pedestrian ingress and egress need to be a major consideration of the project. Seeking out restaurants and other amenities, hotel guests will come and go. Killing them off at the very doorstep is to be avoided.
The TD Ameritrade corner is very challenging. Perhaps there is a way to make that presence more of an asset, combining their parking lot with the CM Inn vehicular entry? I doubt there will be the budget to build pedestrian bridges, but perhaps concierge-cum-shuttle service which incorporates electric vehicles might solve some of the circulation issues and add cachet as well?
Design: I noted the design emphasis placed on both horizontal lines and fenestration. It may be hard to emphasize breadth when the height is so overwhelming, especially contrasted against the adjacent residential area. Plate glass in massive planes is unwelcome as are cute and poorly placed, overly-mullioned windows.
Once you have found the project ‘message', if it is properly executed, balanced, and architecturally sound, it is likely to fit. Branding may be your enemy as slavish compliance with corporate imagining sacrifices the more unique and valuable attributes of the site.