George Lucas Donates Downtown Building to San Anselmo Chamber

Yoda and Indiana Jones are coming downtown as San Anselmo resident George Lucas, who recently made national headlines with his Grady Ranch project in Marin, has donated downtown San Anselmo property that will be turned into a park.


Filmmaker George Lucas has donated downtown San Anselmo property to the San Anselmo Chamber of Commerce. The vacant building, at 535 San Anselmo Avenue, will be demolished and turned into a park complete with bronze statues of Indiana Jones and Yoda. See a rendering of the park, designed by the San Anselmo-based , at the right. 

The announcement was made early on Saturday, June 23, when a crowd was slowly forming downtown for the .  

Lucas, a San Anselmo resident who was spotted downtown early on Saturday, donated the property to the San Anselmo Community Foundation and is anticipating community outreach and donations to help build the town center project, said San Anselmo Chamber President Connie Rodgers.

Lucas has owned the property for roughly two years, Rodgers said. 

On Saturday morning, a letter was posted on 535 San Anselmo Avenue that Rodgers wrote to Lucas earlier this month, asking him to donate the property. “Would you be interested in donating the land to our nonprofit organization … so that we could turn it into a park?”

“When the chamber approached him he was happy to donate the land to such a worthy cause,” Rodgers told Patch. 

The timeline for the project will depend on the planning process, officials said. “This is going to be great for the city, it will increase revenues for the merchants and bring people to the town center,” Rodgers said.  

Officials with the chamber said they don’t know exactly how much land has been donated.

San Anselmo town officials told Patch last week that Lucas has been a great neighbor in the San Anselmo community, most recently paying for the under-grounding of power lines on Miracle Mile near the San Rafael border and constructing a new building in the median of the road, across the street from , according to San Anselmo Town Manager Debbie Stutsman. 

Lucas recently made the best of his stunning decision to pull the plug on his proposed film studio at his Grady Ranch property in North San Rafael by offering to work with Marin Community Foundation to bring affordable housing to Grady Ranch. The move capped a turbulent series of events in which Lucasfilm proposed a 269,000 square foot film studio on Grady Ranch but then faced staunch opposition from a group of Lucas Valley neighbors, who filed an appeal of the Marin County Planning Commission's February 2012 approval of the project.

Faced with a likely drawn-out approval process, Lucas withdrew all permits and applications for the project but has pledged to help the Marin Community Foundation's efforts to explore the possibility for senior housing, workforce housing and family housing on the location, according to MCF Executive Director Thomas Peters.

Tina McMillan June 24, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Janna I was thinking the same thing! It would be wonderful to have a large digital film production studio here in Novato. The jobs would bring revenue to the city as well as employment opportunities. Mr. Lucas's generosity has been a gift to Marin County.
Eleanor Sluis June 24, 2012 at 08:43 PM
It is commendable to give away property for a park. Would Trader Joe’s Prado group be better off financially by writing off taxes if it donated land next to Trader Joe’s or Atherton Ranch for a park, instead of planning for the highest density, non-taxable property entitlements/incentives like the low-income high-density neighbourhood of Diablo and Center? The burden of paying for the infrastructure needed by the city to maintain low-income areas is heavy on city finances. Vallejo Street medians need care. That burden is on tax-payers to add to city revenues for low-income areas such as Bay Vista, Wyndover, and Eden Housing. New business revenues help to balance the city budget for services for new housing. However, it is never enough as housing pays less for city services. If a large corporation with 2000 employees comes to Novato-how are the affordable housing quotas, transportation, schools and costs to tax payers changed? Business, housing, transportation, schools and city finances are connected in a complex manner. There needs to be a discussion of what is best for Novato. Would more people live and work near a large corporation? Could transportation via more buses/ trains/cars/ be mitigated? Does Hamilton want more affordable housing near transportation? Novato is a rural, suburban area. Its goal is to maintain that vision with a balanced approach to building and budgeting and betting on the good sense of its citizens.
SamS June 25, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Simply Amazing. A good story about someone doing something nice in San Anslemo, turns into a negative comments from the anti-affordables folks - AGAIN!!!! The story was about someone making a donation to a town to help the town!! That was it!! NOTHING to do with housing - and had NOTHING to do with Novato!!!! You anti-affordables need to GET A LIFE!!! Leave Novato alone
Tina McMillan June 25, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Sam Did you read the story? It makes reference to the Grady Ranch project as a result of neighbor complaints, shifting from a large digital film production studio to affordable housing. Then, "one" person commented on the issue of what to build where. Whether it is better for a town to build a large studio, affordable housing or city parks was the issue raised. This remains an amazing story about a good man that has done a great deal for the entire county. The fact that it generates debate about land use means people are listening. Your hostile response is the only distraction.
Clark A. Blasdell June 27, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Depending on many economic and environmental variables that occur by chance in one's life, like when we were born and where we were born and if we were NOT born in Marin, we can focus on and remember well that day when we first came to Novato or any other part of Marin, we have each developed criteria as to what we think should be done to change Marin for the better and what "better" means to us and to our neighbors, who were here when we arrived or moved in after we did. In late 1974 I moved from Berkeley to Novato and was attracted to the opportunity to work on the development of policies, programs, and projects to convert many parts of the Hamilton AFB from military uses to civilian reuses. Hamilton is not a perfect place for everyone, but it is a well loved place by most people who moved to Hamilton from many places to live, work, play and belong, and thus have become become residents of Novato's best-balanced now almost completed new neighborhoods balancing both the old and the new ..While.I have never been a proponent of "affordable housing", I have long championed the need for more affordable homes in each distinctively different neighborhood of Novato. Please contact me if you would like to work with me or you would like me to work with you. ~ Citizen Clark of Novato


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