Larkspur Native Excited To Be Part Of Niven Property Revitalization

After more than 10 years of planning, the Rose Garden Project is close to moving on to the construction phase.

By Derek Wilson – Larkspur-Corte Madera Patch, October 26, 2011

Longtime Larkspur resident Jason Barnett vaguely remembers the excitement around the Niven Nursery in its heyday. He’s now excited to be a part of the renewed excitement around the property.
“Definitely, as someone who grew up in larkspur, it adds a level of personal excitement,” said Barnett, a spokesman for New Home Company, which purchased the property. “I grew up in Madrone Canyon. Personally and professionally, Larkspur is home for me. I think Larkspur is an under-appreciated community, but I think we can change that. People are starting to feel optimistic about buying property in Larkspur and Corte Madera. It’s good for everybody”

New Home Company, which has offices in Orange County and Roseville, plans to redevelop the blighted land as a housing project that is expected to include 29 single family homes, 50 senior condominium units and six below-market housing cottages. The purchase also includes the rights to the previously approved plans for the Rose Garden project.

“We are excited to be part of the Larkspur community and to revitalize this site,” Barnett said. “The city has considered and planned for this for a number of years. We’re excited  to bring the city’s vision to reality. We look forward to working with the city and the residents.”

Community groups have spoken up recently asking for some of the land to be set aside for a new library, community center, open space, or for an organic, sustainable farm.

“We really don’t have much choice on this. There’s an existing, specific plan that’s been approved by the city council. There’s been a final development plan that’s been approved by the council. The council is in a development agreement with the current owner,” Larkspur Mayor Larry Chu said during Tuesday night’s City Council candidates debate. “If there are people in the community who’d like to see it become an organic farm, they need to basically go to the current owner pay for the property and come back to the city for approval.”

The development could face a series of challenges, mostly involving the cleanup of the property and waterway improvement. Barnett doesn’t expect the construction to interfere significantly with traffic on Doherty Drive

Barnett said Monday he expects the first phase of the project to begin within “the coming weeks.” Construction will likely continue over several phases, but Barnett expects the first homes to be sold in 2014.

The 16.8-acre property on Doherty Drive is located across from Hall Middle School and near Redwood High School and downtown Larkspur shopping and restaurants and the Lark Theater.

“I went to school at Hall when it was still an elementary school and again when it was a middle school. So, in the recesses of my mind I remember what it was like back then,” the 39-year-old Barnett said.

“As a company, we’re very excited to build on the rich tradition of Larkspur and to transform this site. It’s an underutilized area of town. This is something we want residents to look at with pride. This should be an integral part of Larkspur.”


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