The San Francisco Chronicle: Mill Valley's Revamped Lumber Yard

When Mill Valley Lumber Co. was put up for sale in 2012, Mill Valley received several bids from developers hoping to raze the historic property and install luxury condominiums, as is the going trend with infill projects in the Bay Area. But Jan and Matt Mathews proposed a different strategy altogether. They wanted to renovate the lumber yard, established in 1892, so that it might survive the 21st century intact.

Their pitch: Reimagine the lumber yard’s cluster of red wooden buildings, on Miller Avenue, as a rustic business park for local entrepreneurs. Now renamed the Mill Valley Lumber Yard, the site is now a half-acre, two-story retail village comprised of restaurants, shops and office suites that center around a courtyard, with plentiful outdoor seating and picnic benches.

“There was a real passion for keeping it what it was,” Jan says. “The lumber yard is the first thing you see when you come downtown and when you leave.”

AMANDA MILLNER