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LAFAYETTE: Retail Business Best Seen In The Round?

Designers say their evaluation of a prime potential downtown business location is best seen in the round.
50 Lafayette Circle
50 Lafayette Circle

A design team studying the best possible future use of some prime downtown real estate say it is ideally suited for a well-heeled retail tenant whose wares may best be viewed in the round.

The site at 50 Lafayette Circle, owned by the Whitten family and currently home to The Art Room potters and artists, is a leafy enclave at the center of the city’s burgeoning Eat-and-Be-Seen Fiesta Lane Foodie Ghetto – a mere Rustic Roll toss from Chow and The Cooperage.

Designers SZFM Studios of San Francisco noted the area’s “thriving retail and restaurant tableaux” and conducted a market study of the site they said determined 50 Lafayette to be a prime location for retail – particularly for a “high-end retailer.” They came up with an in-the-round, glass-faced design approach they said would best show off the tenant’s wares and sit within an existing grove of trees.

“We feel this building should not turn its back on any direction – and should present a face to La Fiesta, Fiesta Lane shops and the east-bound approach along Lafayette Circle,” the project’s design team wrote.

SZFM put the footprint for the proposed future Round Retailer at 2,500 square feet, saying adjacent parking support a structure of that size, and said that if the city preferred a business with a smaller footprint in that location they should consider retaining the “house” used by The Art Room and converting the building for food service use.

A study session on the proposal is calendared for consideration by the Design Review Commission at their meeting March 23. The evening could be a busy one for the commission as a feasibility review of plans providing for workforce housing and public parking on city-owned property at 949 Moraga Road is also on the agenda. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Lafayette Library & Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd.


  1. I take it this won’t be a Bucky Fuller type dome house? It would be interesting to see a concept. Security concerns? I would not put a Tiffany there….

  2. Someone beat me to it but I thought I cool bike shop would be great in there. All bike racks and no car parking. Sell all those 10,000 dollar bikes people out here hae to have!!

  3. All iron and varnished wood and glass. Very Carmel Valley. I like the look but yeh traffic is pretty rough down there. I’ll go with Fentons. Got to get that thing in here.

  4. How about we leave it the way it is? Does anyone that lives here really want more overpriced retail crap? I don’t think so.

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