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George Lucas Downtown Park Project Moving Forward

Demolition permit filed for downtown San Anselmo property that will be turned into a park with statues of Indiana Jones and Yoda .

 

San Anselmo resident George Lucas has filed a permit with San Anselmo town officials to demolish the downtown building he donated to the nonprofit San Anselmo Community Foundation earlier this summer, according to the Marin Independent Journal.

The vacant building, at 535, 539 and 541 San Anselmo Avenue, will be demolished next year and turned into a park complete with bronze statues of Indiana Jones and Yoda. See a rendering of the park, designed by San Anselmo-based Blasen Landscape Architects, at the right.

Lucas has agreed to donate the statues and pay for the demolition of the building, according to the IJ. However, Lucas is anticipating community outreach and donations to help build the bulk of the town center project, according to San Anselmo Chamber President Connie Rodgers.

Work had previously started to relocate a historical fresco from the building that used to hold Rossi Brothers Pharmacy, but San Anselmo town officials said the relocation efforts must wait until a demolition permit — including a historical analysis — is approved, according to the IJ.

The fresco will be preserved and donated to the Spanish consulate in San Francisco.

The community has appeared to rally behind the project and Lucas’ donations.

San Anselmo town officials have said Lucas has been a great neighbor in the San Anselmo community. His contributions have included 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 that is now home to Amazing Grace Music, according to San Anselmo Town Manager Debbie Stutsman. 

Lucas recently made headlines around the world when . He planned to donate the $4.05 billion he made from the deal to his foundation Edutopia, which is based in San Rafael and supports education programs.

Lucas also 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. 

Jeffrey Gimzek November 29, 2012 at 07:08 PM
This guy is amazing for the community. As long as he is improving our infrastructure, I would love to see the Tamalpias Theatre on Drake made rehabbed and turned into a launch pad for local films and premiers of the new Stars Wars films.
John Ferguson November 29, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Given the acquisition, maybe a statue of the mouse should be in there as well..
tony masi November 29, 2012 at 10:40 PM
I thought it'd be cool if they put in a life-size, free-standing statue of Harrison Ford encased in carbonite until I realized that was Han Solo and not Indiana Jones. How big is Yoda going to be? Will the statues be on the ground so you can have your picture taken with your arm around them? Can other Lucas characters be included in the park if they are freely donated by some altruistic artist? Maybe filmmakers donating parks can become a trend. No slight meant to the generosity and creative vision of George Lucas, but I'd love to see some Tim Burton film themed park take the place of the empty gas station in Fairfax. Maybe there could be some kind of merchandising tie-in. Does anyone know of any famous and incredibly wealthy celebrities that once or still do call Fairfax their home? I used to see Klaus Kinski in town but he's neither wealthy nor living. There's also the possibility of corporate sponsorship for a park. Statues of the MIchelin Man, the Pillsbury Doughboy, or even Ronald McDonald come to mind. Although, those might not work for Fairfax. Fairfax might go for a Jerry Garcia memorial park, however, as long as it doesn't cause any noise, traffic, loitering, litter, or take up any parking.
Jeffrey Gimzek November 29, 2012 at 10:47 PM
I would have liked to see Terrapin Crossroads in place of that gas station, but 3 assholes decided that the town didn't need another $500,000 a year in tax revenue, so they passed an additional sales tax instead. Fairfax already has plans for a Garcia Memorial. You can see the temporary one on the side of the parking lot to the north of the Pavilion. It's underwhelming. Yes, a Yoda statue is kind of lame, but whatever man, Rocky Balboa has one.
Bob Hunter November 30, 2012 at 03:45 PM
I walk by our new park every week day on my way to my office just off San Anselmo Ave. My prediction? I think this generous contribution to our community will mark the beginning of a turnaround for downtown San Anselmo. The light and vistas that will open up the heart of the avenue will draw folks to the park's feeling of community.
Doug Kelly November 30, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I am really grateful that George Lucas is doing this for the community and I love the idea of the statues. In Santa Rosa there are many statues of the Charlie Brown characters since Charles Schultz lived there and they certainly enhance the town. This is fun and it's a great idea to add this green area to the downtown. Bravo.
The Away Station Inc. November 30, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Whenever the word "demolition" is used I think about how can we do Deconstruction instead. What can be salvaged, reused. We have The Away Station right here in Ross Valley (inside of Fairfax Lumber Yard) so much of the lumber, flooring, stone, light fixtures, etc could be harvested for local reuse. Who is the contact person for this project?
UncleMookie November 30, 2012 at 07:24 PM
I have to pull my light saber out on this one... The trade to get that park - along with the opportunity to raise a coupla hundred grand according the SJMercury News - is to put an Indiana Jones and (ahem!) YODA statues in it? How about keeping those 'iconic' eyesores out of our already aesthetically blended downtown area? As strictly as businesses are regulated to fit into the town/city plans, are we so beholden to Lucas that we have to trade out for a couple of corny movie statues? What, no Jar-Jar Binks at, let's say, the Post Office? Parks are terrific. Lucas is extremely generous. How about a tasteful statue of or tribute to Lucas instead (in this creative community, to we have to default to statues at all)? How about involving some local artisans to come up with something wonderful? I believe we can do better. Maybe I'm a party-pooper, but let's honor philanthropy and noteworthy contributions with some dignity...without the promotional movie tie-in. (Please don't start with how important these movies are to our culture either.) Continue enthusiastically with the park plan, but use the opportunity to raise the collective consciousness regards the value of giving.
Jim Franklin November 30, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Hey uncle nofun, probably not a bad idea to get fanatics up here ogling Yoda statues and buying our generally tasteless food and candles. Keep your nostalgic nimbyism out of my towns progress.
UncleMookie November 30, 2012 at 08:46 PM
I think I was pretty clear that I DO want that park in my back yard (maybe your comment was meant for Tony above?). But, if nostalgia means expanding the conversation to examine the distinction between a community park and a theme park, then you really nailed that part of the post. In the true spirit of your community and staying out of the way of your town's progress, let's set aside our apparent differences and both look forward to those (super-consumer) fanatics you refer to trekking here to throw a coupla pennies in the Yoda Fountain. Hopefully, they'll be able to find a place to park and have extra space in their backpacks for those candles!
Kevin December 01, 2012 at 12:11 AM
The Yoda statue at Big Rock is about 3' tall. Big deal. Dont scare him away from his generous gift like those jackasses in Lucas Valley!
Dr. Henry Walton December 01, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Jim - You've hit the nail on the head. What the old fogies (age irrelevant) in this valley want is to go back in time to some sugar coated dreamy bore-town. Maybe they should band together and put up a Delorean statue with a working flux capacitor. All this bellyaching over Yoda and Indy all the while CVS bags wafting down the Drake and culture dominated by Comforts bland salads and the Roastery's tragically burned coffee. Hey Marin: get in your prius/subaru this weekend and head over to Temescal, or Hayes Valley, or Walnut Creek (really) and have a come to jesus with yourself. Also, baah!
tony masi December 01, 2012 at 04:42 AM
It's heartening to see locals like Jim and the good Dr. standing up for progress in San Anselmo while in the same breath totally trashing downtown businesses. Bully for you two! Keep up the good work! And the amount of bellyaching contained in the previous comments was almost overwhelming before you two stepped up to the plate with your insightful and enlightening observations. Congratulations for ushering us back on the path toward the true spirit of San Anselmo!
Bat December 01, 2012 at 09:29 AM
How about the man who wrote "Dune", Frank Herbert? He lived in Fairfax, I believe, and my son went to school with his son, tho they moved shortly after "Dune" was published. Barb Graham .
tony masi December 01, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Thanks! I didn't realize that. I loved those books when I was younger. "Fear is the mind killer" is still sage advice at any age. I think Frank has since passed on and for a while his son was writing the series, but I may be wrong. PS. I saw a picture of the Yoda fountain in the IJ and it looked kind of fun. Not quite as interactive as I had hoped, but novel just the same. I bet the background story on this Lucas park donation would be pretty interesting. Did he own this property for long? If not, was it his original intention to turn it into a park from the get go? I haven't been following the history of this story so I really don't know.
Larry Ericson December 02, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Aesthetically mixed? My interpretation of this is that you want a downtown monoculture where every building looked exactly alike…aka the Potemkin village approach of Stowe VT, Santa Barbara, and Palm Springs where wealthy white people go to play. Towns need a little quirkiness to make them interesting. Secondly, what do Yoda and Indian Jones represent to the public? Yoda is wisdom mixed with moralism. Indie was a highly educated professor who instead of resting on his laurels, still sought out adventure. Any town can do broken tile work sculptures, ceramic pigs or bears or cheap looking colored banners – how many towns can say that the invention of those fictional icons lead, not only to a philanthropist donating millions to his hometown, but also inspired thousands of children to stick with education or to go and discover the world beyond their monotonously designed gated communities? And I agree with Jim: San Anselmo food could do better. Until 6 months ago, the downtown restaurant scene had no pulse. I give great kudos to the 4 places that have opened recently to make a run at it. I encourage the public to get out and dine local. It keeps the chains out, helps your neighbors and builds a cohesive community.
tony masi December 02, 2012 at 03:21 PM
I'm all in to quirky (if not outright hallucinogenic) and grateful recognition for public philanthropy (even if Larry is stretching it a bit in my estimation). Still, this story has some unexplored facets that intrigue me. And although I don't get what Yoda has to do with local cuisine, maybe the downtown introduction of the 'force' can act like some mystic seasoning and elevate the taste of the surrounding culinary offerings (if need be).
tony masi December 03, 2012 at 12:59 PM
I just read some past Patch articles and found that it was the San Anselmo Town Council that approached George Lucas and asked him to donate his property for the proposed park. Wow! That's pretty ballsy. It throws this story into a completely different perspective for me. The Town Council in their gratitude should make Lucas something like honorary King or Emperor of San Anselmo for one week out of every year and allow George to do whatever he damn well pleases as Supreme Monarch of the town. It could be like a festival, with a coronation, and lots of street events and parties and film screenings. It's not such a bad idea.
Catherine Gloria Tripp December 10, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Is that a Stop Work Order in the window? So the Planning Department has stepped in to assure No Progress is made on this worthy project?

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