Terrapin Crossroads: Frequently Asked Questions

These are the most frequently asked questions about the Phil Lesh-backed music venue.

There are a number of questions about the proposed next to the building on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.

These are the most common of those questions. Most of the answers came from the community meeting, hosted by the , on Sept. 1. You can watch the videos ( and from that meeting.

If we're missing a question, let us know, and we will add to this as we go forward.


What is the size and capacity of the project?

Read the full . There is a 500-person performance capacity in the three-story building. The building is approximately 16,500 square feet, with a 8,250 square foot footprint and main floor.

Would a smaller project be considered

According to Bruce Burman of Jazz Builders, the project manager, probably not.

What will the building be used for?

Phil Lesh would perform with his band and with invited musical friends for short runs in the performance space. There will also be youth music programs for local kids, as well as workshops and dinner events. The building will also be used for small fundraisers for the Leshes’ nonprofit organization and for local nonprofits.

Why is there a kitchen? Will the venue serve alcohol?

Terrapin Crossroads would provide light snacks during performances and meals during dinner events or workshops. Drinks would be available at evening shows, but it would not be a bar; the idea being that the alcohol is not the main focus.

How many shows would there be? How late will they be? 

Between 50 and 100. The number will be finalized with the use permit approved by the Town Council, if the project moves forward and is approved. 

When shows will run is not yet determined and will be part of the application process, but no later than midnight.

Why does Phil Lesh want to build this in Fairfax anyway?

Read about . A number of other venues in Marin were considered, but Fairfax had the right feel, musical scene and history.

Why the gas station site next to Good Earth? How is that any better than Good Earth?

The Leshes toured the Good Earth site at night and decided it was too close to residential neighbors and when people exited it would be too loud. By moving farther from the corner, they hope to mitigate that. Additionally, retrofitting the Good Earth building to make it completely soundproof would be more expensive than building from scratch.

How soundproof will the building be?

The criteria being used is that noise would be completely inaudible to any nearby residents. The building will have eight-inch concrete walls, airspace in between the three layers, and additional vestibules between the performance space and the outdoors.

There’s no onsite parking. How will the building deal with parking? How many spots are required?

Only 80 parking spots are required for this project, per the town code. But, Town Planning Director Jim Moore called that “woefully inadequate” and said the Leshes have agreed to address a more realistic number.

Burman, the project manager, said they are currently in talks with St. Rita’s to sign a long-term lease to provide up to 200 parking spots at . Any approval or use permit from the town would be contingent on a parking contract. The church and school doesn’t use the parking lot at nights, when the music venue would need the spots. Utilizing existing, under-used parking spaces (as opposed to creating more parking surfaces) is the current environmentally-friendly trend in building and planning.

How will Terrapin Crossroads prevent people from parking in the neighborhoods? 

In addition to private security that would be stationed at the corner to prevent people from parking in the neighborhoods, the Leshes are considering measures that would prevent people from using residential parking – such as requiring proof of that attendees park in the correct lot before allowing them entry or banning them from future ticket sales if they park in residential areas.

How will the town be affected by increased traffic and congestion? How will Terrapin Crossroads mitigate that?

A traffic analysis is required as part of the completed application for the project. The Fairfax Town Council must approve the methodology and scope of the traffic analysis; that was scheduled for the Aug. 17 meeting, but .

If the application moves forward, that traffic analysis would study how traffic would be impacted and what mitigation measures should be taken. In addition, the town would hire their own engineers to peer-review the analysis, at the expense of the Leshes.

The Leshes are also considering giving early ticket-buying priority to people who commit to carpool, walk or bike.

How will the Leshes prevent people from camping out or hanging out outside the venue?

There will be NO tickets for sale at the venue. All tickets will be sold online in advance. Additionally, tickets will be connected to a specific person, who will have to present ID, so there won’t be any scalping. Approximately, 10 private security, who have worked with the Leshes for a number of years, will also police the area.

Will there be a need for increased security? A cost to Fairfax for extra policing?

The Leshes have pledged to give Fairfax $5 for every ticket sold for the town to use as it sees fit, as a sort of way to pay for any additional costs the town would incur. Additionally, Terrapin Crossroads would employ their own private security.

Will my property values go down?

Real estate agents have different points of view on how entertainment venues impact property values.

What are the steps for the project to be approved? What happens next?

For any project, an application must be submitted and go through a public hearing and approval process. For Terrapin Crossroads, there are extra permits it needs, beyond the scope of regular town buildings, including a use permit (which would outline the exact conditions under which it would be allowed to operate), a parking variance, and a height variance. Those permits would be approved or denied by the Design Review Board and Planning Commission in public hearings.

Terrapin Crossroads must complete an initial study, which would examine any significant impacts from the project in 16 different areas, including traffic, noise, and environment.

If significant impacts are found or cannot be appropriately mitigated, then an environmental impact report would have to be completed. An environmental impact report is a more comprehensive study of the impact a project would have on the town.

In addition, a traffic analysis would be required in the application. In Fairfax, the methodology and scope of that traffic analysis has to be approved first by the town council.

When all those things are completed, the complete application is submitted to the county and made available to the public for a public comment period. The submitted study is known as a negative declaration (if there are no impacts) or a mitigated declaration (if impacts have to be mitigated).

The application would then be reviewed by the Design Review Board and Planning Commission within six months of the submitted application.

If there is no appeal of the decision, then the Fairfax Town Council has to make a final approval of the negative declaration or mitigated declaration.

Any resident is able to appeal the decision with the town and it would then go then the town council for review.

You can review the entire town approval process on Fairfax’s website.

Has the town already made up its mind on the project?

No. Planning Commissioners, members of the Design Review Board and Town Council Members are legally required to be impartial and cannot voice an opinion on the project.

How long would construction take if the project is approved?

Approximately one year.

How much would the town make from the project?

The Leshes have committed to donating $5 from every ticket sale to the town. Additionally, once the building was completed, it would be reassessed by the county and would, undoubtedly, result in a higher property tax than the current empty gas station.

Where do the majority of people in Fairfax stand on the project?

The town is not allowed to conduct any poll, but legally has to be impartial and oversee the process. There are a number of unscientific polls on facebook, twitter, etc. The plan is not likely to go to a vote, as residents don’t have the right, usually, to vote on private property owners’ use of their property.

Are there alternative proposals for the site?

The property is owned by the owners of Good Earth and is used, currently, for overflow parking for them. They have said a New York-based bank is interested in buying the property and coming into town, but that the Phil Lesh proposal was a better fit for Fairfax. There are no other applications filed with the town. 

What happens now? Will the Leshes resubmit their proposal?

The Leshes submitted their application on Aug. 1 and were scheduled for the first public meeting on Aug. 17, where the Town Council would approve the scope of the traffic study. However, vocal opposition caused them to pull the proposal from the agenda – as is their right.

Burman said that they are taking the month of September to consider the project and host the community meeting on Sept. 1 and will reconsider if they want to move forward with the project in October.

Dawn Lillington September 02, 2011 at 07:49 PM
FYI there are not 200 parking spaces at St. Ritas.
John Ferguson September 02, 2011 at 09:03 PM
It looks like there are about 70 striped parking spaces at St. Ritas, but with all the open tarmac it looks like you could easily double the striped capacity. Still, getting all those vehicles parked and then back out will be a chore.
Kelly Dunleavy O'Mara September 02, 2011 at 09:11 PM
OK, 200 is the number they said they were in discussions to provide at St Rita's at the community meeting. Don't know what the plan is yet; they're still in negotiations. One good question raised was what if people leave their cars and take a cab home (for safety, alcohol reasons)?
keo September 02, 2011 at 11:44 PM
Tow Trucks ?
Xen Xmith September 03, 2011 at 04:40 AM
Any other new business in town that wanted to serve booze and food and had no parking would never be allowed. As someone asked at the meeting "What happens when the parking agreement with St Rita's ends?" My question is, How are you going to feel about the project if ticket prices are too high, Like $150.00 per show? Will you still be for it?
Courtney September 03, 2011 at 06:59 AM
If people are being encouraged to walk, bike, etc. to get there, how can they ask people to provide proof that they have parked in the correct lot? Someone can just park in a neighborhood then say that they walked/biked. Also, there have been several times when I have wanted to stop in town to pick up food on the way home and there was no parking available-that's before adding this venue. If we don't require businesses to provide their own parking it continues to put stress on the entire parking situation. The citizens of Fairfax will just avoid the downtown area all-together on nights when there is an event at Terrapin (unless attending the event of course) which is not really what I had in mind by living here- having to go outside of town to go restaurants, etc. How will this benefit the local businesses during the entire time frame of any event? Most people who will have parked in town will be at Terrapin and there will be no room for the rest of us who want to visit the other local merchants. While I imagine that Fairfax might feel like a good fit for this venue, the correct location is not where it is proposed. Everyone who is traveling through this area of town will have to encounter all of these cars trying to park. If people arrive early to have dinner before the show, this is likely to be at peak commute times. Imagine several hundred cars trying to turn into St. Rita’s lot- they will be backed up onto SF Drake….
Michelle September 03, 2011 at 02:39 PM
Appropriately considered and approved this could be a great project for Fairfax. It is a good match which would drive increased. Business in our town and would be an interesting growth opportunity while still fitting the character of. Our community
Wijsen September 03, 2011 at 04:26 PM
123 Bolinas? I wouldn't be for the movie theatre if they charged $75 per ticket....
Mimi Newton September 03, 2011 at 07:28 PM
I want to see a traffic and parking study done that will allow us to have the discussion we need to have as a community about the impacts to our lives. The potential benefits are too great and the economic situation of the Town too shaky not to even try to figure out some possible solutions - I think we can . . .
jah September 05, 2011 at 05:20 AM
Wow, I guess if Phil doesn't build we are really screwed. That evil New York bank is out there. They might want to build, gasp!, a drug store or other sinister things where at least 20 people and cars might congregate. It could even be, gasp, a small cvs or Walgreens. But no, there no tax dollars in that and we certainly don't allow chain store here. What was I thinking.
keo September 05, 2011 at 02:46 PM
There was a pharmacy and small drug store where the Fairfax Cyclery is now. I am assuming that shut down b/c it was not being patronized and could not sustain itself in that spot.
sam September 05, 2011 at 07:04 PM
I think it is selfish & thoughtless wanting to create such a HUGE rock venue in this small town right next to a senior citizens' home, subjecting 70 old folks to the invasion of a 1000 concert goers EVERY single weekend of the year!! Having throngs of people leave after midnight, some of them under the influence, by itself will create an incredible disturbance for these old people. I thought what makes Fairfax great was the fact that people CARED for each other - apparently this has fallen by the wayside. Has Phil Lesh even thought once about the implications for these old folks? I would guess he won't have to spend his old age at Bennet House! Phil, please think about this, show some compassion and don't destroy this small town with this WAY TO BIG concert business! Thank you!
James September 15, 2011 at 06:37 PM
Many thanks to Kelly Dunleavy for the fantastic coverage of Phil's proposed venue. FYI folks, http://www.TerrapinLanding.com is a forum purposed for the discussion of Phil Lesh's Terrapin Crossroads. Interested parties are welcome to join the newly launched community to discuss the project.
FairNAGS October 18, 2011 at 02:27 PM
Classic neocolonialism in the guise of wine, song and revelry! Don't take the bait Fairfax. I, like so many of us, had my oil changed at this site in 1992. Where I'm from that qualifies as cultural heritage. Make no mistake, for West Marin, this would be the cultural equivalent of the Three Gorges Dam. Join our FaceBook Page to help stop this and Save our Abandoned Heritage! https://www.facebook.com/pages/FairNAGS/205437729529921
John Ferguson October 18, 2011 at 05:55 PM
Yes, by all means let's block any project that might bring cars to Fairfax. I like to be able to park wherever I want, whenever I want. After all, if I wanted to search for parking for more than 30 seconds, I would have never left San Francisco! I'm suburban and my rights to free and plentiful parking are inalienable..


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