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Interactive Resources Completes Novato City Hall Project

The Novato City Hall in the rehabilitated historic church that serves as Novatoís logo will open for busines tomorrow. Richmond A/E firm, Interactive Resources, was resposible for design of the project, and Andrew Butt, AIA, who serves on Richmondís Design Review Board is Architect of Record. Kim Butt, AIA,  who serves on Richmondís Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, was architectural historian and historic architect for the project.

Richmond Landscape Architect, Vallier Design Associates, was responsible for the landscape design, and the general contractor is Alten Construction, also of Richmond.


Remodeled City Hall opens Nov. 20

Staff Report

Published: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 1:48 PM PST



Photo courtesy of Mike Read The makeover of Novatoís old City Hall is almost complete.

Staff Report

Published: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 1:48 PM PST

The city of Novato invites the community to the rededication of Novatoís Historic City Hall at 901 Sherman Ave. The celebration will take place at 10 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 20. A short ceremony will be hosted by the City Council and will include the unveiling of a commemorative plaque. After the ceremony, guests will have the opportunity to explore the building and site. Refreshments will be served.

The renovations of what originally was a Presbyterian church began in September 2008 and have transformed the interior of the 111-year-old building, while retaining its historic exterior.

The inside is now a multi-purpose space, with an adjoining lobby that connects to a catererís kitchen, storage area and restrooms.

On two sides, the building is surrounded by a brick patio, where close to 300 engraved bricks have been installed with room for many more. The bricks are being sold to help raise $10,000 for the cityís upcoming 50th birthday party with any leftover funding spent at councilís discretion.

A new Civic Green has bee created between the building and the cityís former Parks and Recreation office. This outdoor space may become the site of the Tuesday night farmerís market during the summer, because the Downtown Business Association voted to move the farmerís market off Grant Avenue.

All City Council meetings will be held in the remodeled city hall, starting on Dec. 1, along with all city Commission, Board and Committee meetings.

Low-impact recreational classes will also be held here and the entire indoor and outdoor space will be available for rental starting in the New Year.

One of the first community events to be held in the building will be the official kick-off of Cityís 50th anniversary year on Jan. 20. The site will host a birthday event for families and the Cityís official birthday party, ďPaint the Town Red,Ē on Jan. 30.


Renovated Novato City Hall to be unveiled Friday

Brent Ainsworth

Posted: 11/15/2009 06:58:58 PM PST


Bob Alten spent his high school years living in Novato and estimates that he has driven by the old City Hall at 901 Sherman Ave. thousands of times. That's why it meant so much to him to have his construction company be the one to refurbish the iconic red building that will be reopened Friday.

"It's the focal point of Novato," said Alten, a San Marin High School graduate. "When you thought of Novato, you pictured that building. So we were really excited to be part of the project."

City officials will have a public rededication ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday, and the new City Council will be sworn in there Dec. 1. The first full-fledged meeting in the new City Hall will be the Dec. 8 session of the Novato City Council.

Alten, who runs Alten Construction of Richmond, was awarded the contract for the makeover on the circa-1896 structure, known for its clock tower and rooster weathervane. The construction portion of the refurbishing was for $3.9 million, and the total bill is expected to be in the $6 million range, city sources said.

"The guys who are working on the project are really proud of it," Alten said. "We've done a lot of other projects, but more people have talked to us about this one than all the other projects put together. I guess it's because it's a very visual project right on that corner and because that building seems to mean a lot to the city."

The renovation included a temporary move of the building 75 feet to the north so a new foundation could be built. When it was moved to its final resting spot in May, it was bolted and strapped to the foundation and connected to an annex and new lobby.

The interior was gutted. Except for the exterior design, it's a new building, Alten said. The designer was architect Andrew Butt of Interactive Resources.

"The people in the historic guild were an integral part of the process, and we all wanted to make sure we maintained the historical aspects of it," Alten said.

Ernie Gray, who served 22 years on the City Council, called the renovation "money well spent" and is pleased that the building will have many other functions, including facility rentals. The main room has hardwood flooring and can be used for weddings and other gatherings.

"What we'll have is a landmark building that will be useful in many ways, not just for City Council meetings," he said.

Mayor Jim Leland added, "It's going to be a blockbuster place to have an event, and I look forward to it being used all the time."

City Council and many other public meetings have been held at other venues since 901 Sherman and the adjacent Community House were shuttered by the fire marshal in 2004. Most City Council meetings have taken place at the Novato Unified School District office, and city offices were moved to rented office space at 75 Rowland Way. The Community House on Machin Avenue remains closed.

The city is investigating plans for new city offices, possibly in the downtown area, in order to get out of its $700,000 annual lease at the Rowland complex. The city is also looking at existing office space available for purchase. Studies on both will be presented to the City Council in January, Councilwoman Jeanne MacLeamy said.

In honor of the city's 50th birthday in January 2010, the city is selling commemorative engraved bricks for $100 to be installed around the City Hall entryway. The first bricks were installed last week and more are to be laid Monday morning. The brick-selling campaign is ongoing. Citizens can fill out a form at www.ci.novato.ca.us or pick up a form at any city building.

Read more Novato stories at the IJ's Novato section.

Contact Brent Ainsworth via e-mail at bainsworth@marinij.com

New name sought for renovated Novato City Council chambers

Brent Ainsworth

Posted: 11/18/2009 02:54:51 PM PST


As long as the city of Novato's contingent of employees call 95 Rowland Way their base camp, the former City Hall at 901 Sherman Ave. is not the real City Hall in a technical sense. So what should the renovated former church, the city's architectural landmark, be called?

City staff and the City Council discussed the issue at a public workshop Tuesday night, and it was clear the decision won't be made right away. The staff is eager to start marketing the facility for rentals such as weddings, conferences, corporate parties and other private events.

Councilwoman Pat Eklund said she didn't believe it was critical to rush on the name. "I think it would be a great opportunity to engage the public and hear what they think is the right name for this iconic building," she said. "I would like to include the citizens of Novato in this process. ... In the interim, I think 901 Sherman is going to sell itself."

City staffers compiled a list of possibilities that surfaced during brainstorming sessions including Novato Town Hall, Novato City Center, Sherman Community Center, the De Long Center and the Downtown Community Center. The building is at the corner of De Long and Sherman avenues.

Councilwoman Carole Dillon-Knutson prompted laughs when she said in jest, "If somebody wanted to give us a couple of million dollars (for naming rights), I'd certainly consider it." She added, "Novato City Hall sounds about right. I'd like to keep it simple and not tied to one person's name."

Councilwoman Jeanne MacLeamy suggested Historic Novato City Hall to differentiate it from the city offices across town.

It was suggested that the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Commission add the issue to its next budget and make a recommendation to the City Council.

The building, which is being rededicated at 10 a.m. Friday after a $6 million makeover, became Novato City Hall in 1963 and served in that capacity until 2004 when it was condemned by the fire marshal. The council and other public governing bodies used to meet in the adjacent Community House, which remains condemned.

Read more Novato stories at the IJ's Novato section.

Contact Brent Ainsworth via e-mail at