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Bon Air Center undergoes major remodel, pedestrian features and new shops to come

The Bon Air Center in Greenbrae is undergoing a major reconstruction project that will add several new shops to the mall as well as new architectural features and upgrades.

The project officially began April 12 and is scheduled to be completed before the end of November, according to DeeDee Taft, Bon Air Center spokesperson.

According to a recent press release, the “refresh” will include “wider pedestrian paths, fresh landscaping, additional outdoor gathering areas… fire pits and more,” as well as a bocce ball court and eventual Wi-Fi and electric car charging stations.


“It hadn’t had a major remodel since 1985,” Taft said. “It’s just time.”

However the project will have effects on nearby businesses, such as Destination Marin, whose store, like a group of others, is now directly behind the temporary fence marking the edge of the construction zone. Danny McClinton, an employee at the store, said that the construction had decreased business to the store.

“When it first started and they had the jack hammers going and stuff, it really affected us bad,” McClinton said. “We were barely getting anyone in the store because the jackhammers were so loud, people were literally running by with their ears covered up.”

From McClinton’s point of view, it seems that some neighboring stores are still doing decent business, but they all took a definite hit.

“Well with the fencing up and the parking lot pretty much [taken out] right here, it’s not as convenient for people to park over there and come to our store,” he said.

The project will be paid for by Greenbrae Management Company, the owner of the property. The construction will begin on the north end of the shopping center, near Wells Fargo, and move east across the property, according to the press release.

It is important to create a gathering place for neighbors and a place of community,” the press release said as a chief reason for the remodel. “The role of shopping centers is evolving from functionality to more of a sense of community.”

Taft said that one main goal of the project is to encourage potential shoppers to spend more social time at the center.

“In addition to places to eat and shop, they want to also include areas that people can just hang out, knowing that this is a community center,” she said.

McClinton is optimistic that the final result of the project will increase business, specifically by creating more sitting areas near the store.

Some front-row parking will be removed to allow for the expanded pedestrian path. Although the mall will not lose any current buildings, new amenities will be added, according to Taft.

“There are a couple new stores or restaurants coming,” Taft said. “They haven’t been confirmed yet, but there are definitely a couple of spaces that are in the process of being filled.”

Taft said that the reaction from the community about the project has been generally positive.

“As with any change, there’s questions and just a little confusion, but for the most part it has been really well-received,” Taft said.

Junior Thomas St. John, who lives nearby and works at the Mollie Stones in the center, thinks the project will help increase the store’s business.  

“It would affect stores in a positive way,” St. John said. “Having a place to bring the community together will make people want to come to Bon Air and stay there, which will help increase business.”

The project will attempt to include environment-friendly components, according to Taft.

“It is all done sustainably. They’re using all local contractors for the project. It’s all Marin focused,” Taft said. “They’re going to use drought tolerant landscaping… even catch rainwater and reuse it.”

Much of the new landscaping would have the ability to “collect and absorb storm water runoff from nearby paved surfaces including streets and sidewalks allowing the property to reuse collected rainwater,” according to the press release.

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Henry Tantum, Author