Four years after jumping through environmental hoops, a plan to rebuild the Best Western Inn in Corte Madera has cleared a major hurdle.
An environmental report released this month concluded the project at 57 Madera Blvd. “would not substantially degrade the quality of the environment,” and “with implementation of the required mitigation measures, impacts would be less than significant.” That’s good news for the development team, said Garrett Grialou, president of Reneson Hotels, which is proposing the project.
“This is what we expected,” Grialou said. “I think the biggest difference is that we’re retaining the onsite pond. We’re actually proposing to enhance the habitat. The hotel, we believe it’s been designed to fit the site well.”
The existing hotel is a 110-room Best Western situated on a 5.53-acre lot between the Tamal Vista Boulevard corridor and Highway 101. There is an onsite restaurant.
Reneson Hotels originally applied to rebuild the hotel in 2014. A plan to pave over the half-acre onsite pond drew heavy criticism, leading the company to redesign a project that would keep it. However, that apparently wasn’t good enough. Planning commissioners wanted an in-depth pond restoration plan before it would consider giving a thumbs-up on a proposal, so the developers withdrew the application.
Now, after several years of revisions, the project proposes to retain the pond and add habitat enhancements along the upland edge. The hotel would be a U-shaped 149-room Residence Inn. It would be a mix of three- and four-story sections, standing 47-feet at the highest point. There would be no onsite restaurant.
The project would comply with the tier 1 requirements of the California green building standards code. There would be 169 parking stalls, including six accessible spaces, and 14 with electric vehicle charging capabilities.
The environmental report, called an Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration, considered impacts to aesthetics, air quality, biological resources, geology and soils, determining that all impacts could be mitigated to less than significant with appropriate steps.
Barbara Salzman, president of the Marin Audubon Society, said the organization is pleased the pond will be saved and enhanced.
“We want to keep that heron roost in place,” Salzman said, noting that the site is believed to be a popular roosting area for black-crowned night heron.
Salzman said the members of Marin Audubon were going to take some time to review the proposed vegetation and how it will be done.
The environmental report is available for public review through Jan. 14. The report is required under the California Environmental Quality Act.
“Based on the information we’ve reviewed thus far,” Planning Director Adam Wolff said, “we’ve been pleased with the project’s overall consistency with the town’s goals for new hotel development as specified in the recently adopted hotel ordinance.”
Staff plans to recommend conditional approval to the Planning Commission. A public hearing is tentatively set for Jan. 25, Wolff said.
If the Planning Commission gives its blessing, the project move to the Town Council for consideration, Wolff said.
Project details and the environmental report are available at townofcortemadera.org/970/Corte-Madera-Residence-Inn.