In the coming weeks, Depot Bookstore & Cafe owner Paul Lazzareschi and his team are set to embark on a renovation of the longtime City-owned building at 87 Throckmorton Avenue that it calls home. The project is extensive but largely has two components: an overhaul of the Depot space, bringing the historic building, particularly its bathroom and kitchen, up to code, as well as the construction of a long-sought, much-needed public restroom adjacent to the Depot.
To accommodate the construction, the Mill Valley Chamber, whose Visitor Center and office has also been in the City-owned building for decades, is relocating to a temporary mobile office a few hundred feet away, in a pair of parking spaces on Miller Avenue across from Piazza D’Angelo, as indicated in the illustration at left. The project is expected to take at least 6 months, and the Chamber will operate out of the mobile office with the same level of digital-centric service to its members and the larger Mill Valley community.
“We’re moving a short distance away, but very little will change about our day-to-day operations,” says Chamber Co-Director Paula Reynolds. “Our Visitor Center in the Depot Building gets a ton of foot traffic, and our ace staff will continue to dole out shopping and restaurant recommendations, give out our MV Community Map, directions to Muir Woods and Mt. Tam, and mostly brag about our incredible Chamber members.”
“We appreciate the City’s willingness to support our temporary relocation to a nearby space, as proximity to our current space within our downtown core is critically important,” Reynolds adds. “And we look forward to returning soon to a Depot that is gorgeous and strikes a balance between the building’s historic character and some much-needed modern infrastructure.”
The impending project kickoff comes on the heels of the longstanding efforts of Lazzareschi, who also owns Vasco restaurant across the street from the Depot to revitalize the Depot. Lazzareschi first put forward plans soon after he and partner Gary Rulli bought the business in 2016 from the family of the late Mary Turnbull, who founded the famed bookstore and cafe with her husband William Turnbull in 1987 and died in September 2015.
The Depot pays the City a base rent plus a percentage of total sales. The depot building was built by the Northwestern Pacific Railroad in 1928. It served as the terminal for electric and oil trains that between Mill Valley to the Sausalito ferry docks. The railroad shut down in the 1940s and morphed into a bus depot, used first by Greyhound and later by Golden Gate Transit.
In the 1970s, the building was re-invented as Ganey’s Bookstore and Cafe, which it remained until the Turnbull family took over the lease in 1987.
In April 2018, the Mill Valley City Council unanimously rejected an effort to stop plans to renovate the space and allow the construction of a long-delayed downtown public bathroom to proceed. City officials and Lazzareschi reached an agreement to incorporate the public bathroom construction into the Depot project to save costs and time. The public bathroom project was regularly discussed in 2014 and was fully budgeted in 2015 and conceptually dates back to 1984, when then-Mayor Richard “Dick” Jessup, who designed the Depot Plaza, first sketched out a downtown bathroom location.
The 411: The Mill Valley Chamber is moving to a temporary mobile office space on the Miller Ave. side of the Depot Plaza in the coming weeks. Regular hours will remain: Tues.-Sat., 10am-4pm. MORE INFO.