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Ribbon Cutting Set for 999 Grant Building

Umpqua Bank, which recently bought out Circle Bank, will set up local headquarters on the second floor, leaving the first floor for retail, a restaurant and a small branch of its bank.

Passersby will notice that the construction “skirt” has come off the building at the corner of Grant Avenue and Redwood Boulevard in downtown Novato. The work started last year on the 999 Grant Ave. address is nearing completion and a ribbon cutting ceremony has been set for Nov. 8.

Originally intended to be the headquarters for Circle Bank, the location will host the local headquarters for the bank’s recent buyer, Oregon-based Umpqua Bank. Umpqua said it intends to move ahead with Circle Bank's plans to have administrative offices on the second floor and a small branch on the first floor. A city ordinance prohibits bank branches on the first floor of buildings facing main streets on that part of Novato's Old Town, so the branch's entrance will face the parking area to the southeast, sort of toward Mi Pueblo and McDonald's restaurants.

The ribbon cutting will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8 and feature Cirlce Bank CEO Kim Kaselionis along with other local officials. Refreshments will be served.

"It is as much a celebration for Circle Bank as it is for Novato, and we invite the community to come and join us in toasting the completion of this project after an effort of almost 10 years," Kaselionis said. "It’s a demonstration of what is possible when we collaborate and work together.  We hope that this accomplishment fosters more projects toward success for the downtown area, like the theater, and that it will stimulate more hope for prosperous times ahead for our community."

Ray Davis, the CEO of Umpqua Bank, will be on hand in Novato today, Oct. 24, during a public Q&A session with Kaselionis and the Novato Chamber of Commerce. The session starts at 6 p.m. at StoneTree Golf Course's banquet room.

According to Steven Leonard of Cassidy Turley, the commercial real estate firm providing services for the project, “A number of restaurant types are in discussion” over leasing space at the building though nothing has been finalized.  

“Novato has always been the 'if you build it they will come' type of place,” Leonard said, adding that prospective tenants tend to like “looking at the finished space before making a commitment” and that taking the so-called skirt off the building should really help gather some interest. He also said that Cassidy Turley is actively chasing down deals for first floor retailers as well.

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David Edmondson October 24, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Yeah, maybe it's time for Novato to lift that ban. It's not like they're doing much else to focus development downtown. That said: fantastic news!
Travis Howard October 24, 2012 at 04:37 PM
That city ordinance in Old Town is currently under review. I believe the intent was to keep that part of downtown open on evenings and weekends. If my memory serves me right currently only retail, restaraunts and residential real estate offices can be on the 1st floor in Old Town, which attracks the most foot traffic and makes it more of a shopping destination. Very excited to attend the ribbon cutting for 999 Grant!
Keith S. October 24, 2012 at 07:01 PM
All older city ordinances need to be taken a look at. look at San Rafael. they are booming while Novato suffers. Nice to see something positive downtown.
Bill October 24, 2012 at 11:31 PM
For those folks wanting to attend the ceremony, we will need to know where to park. Can you issue some guidelines?
janna nikkola October 25, 2012 at 05:31 AM
I can't believe that old "ordinance" about no banks in Old Town hadn't been lifted so that this the building at 999 Grant Avenue would not have to stand vacant for another ten years. It's outrageous the city council can be so STUIPID as to expect such a large new office bullding to have an entrance somewhere between the McDonald's and Mi Pueblo parking lots. I give KIm Kaselionis much credit for having the patience to negotiate in good faith with the bad faith city council for an entire year to get permission to lease the ground floor space in the former building and to open a branch for Circle Bank. The ridiculous, mindless, illogical actions of the city council are what drives people to go "postal". We must get rid of every one of them -- and the city manager as well. Nothing less than a clean sleep will do -- except for the young man who was most recently elected -- he's the only city council member who exercises such degree of common sense and logic. I also give KIm Kaselionis much credit for getting this building completed in record time and at a reasonable construction price. That's the difference between someone in business having to consider the bottom line, whereas the city council does not -- they just spend, spend, spend without consideration of staying on budget -- and then just work on raising our taxes.

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