Strawberry

A fruitful life in a Mill Valley enclave
Photos by Tim Porter

Even though the area was considered a possible location for the United Nations after World War II, Strawberry has become a comfortable and family-oriented community far from the spotlight.

The United Nations would eventually settle on New York as the location for its headquarters, leaving Strawberry to quietly undergo development starting in 1947. The unincorporated area—defined by Highway 101 to the west and Tiburon Boulevard to the north—has about 5,300 residents who have created their own community while maintaining ties to both Mill Valley (of which Strawberry is part) and Tiburon. But geographic boundaries have served to keep the community off the radar of most Marinites.

Jennifer Klopfer still remembers the day she first discovered Strawberry. “We came kayaking from the water side and arrived at the spit at Strawberry,” she says, referring to the area that was once a major gathering point for harbor seals.  “We said, ‘What is this place?’”

It wasn’t long after that that Klopfer and her husband moved to Strawberry for the views, community, outdoor activities and access to quality Mill Valley schools and schools closer to home like the Strawberry Point School, which reopened in 2000. “It’s such a nice waterfront community with quick access to the city,” Klopfer says. “It is a fabulous place to walk around with amazing views of the city or Mount Tam. It’s so convenient and yet it is like you are a world away.”

One issue Klopfer is very passionate about is rehabbing and rethinking the community center and related facilities served by the Strawberry Recreation District. She joined the all-volunteer district board four years ago and became president in December. “I felt like the center was a sleeping beauty,” Klopfer says of the aging facilities. “It is serving a community that is changing, that is younger. New families move here and they have expectations.”

The facilities include meeting rooms, a basketball court, two baseball fields, a soccer field, four tennis courts, a pool, wading pool and sauna, a small park and picnic areas. Hopes are that these assets can be maintained and upgraded and that more youth programming can be added, especially with the addition of Leanne Kreuzer—who specialized in youth programs when she worked at the Mill Valley Community Center—as a paid manager for the district.

“We want to create a community-based service that everyone can use,” Klopfer adds. “The sky is the limit.”

Another resident who moved to Strawberry came to serve the residents in a different way. “It seemed like a great location with easy access right off the freeway and it was a very community-oriented mall,” says Gail Ann, who moved her spa business to Strawberry Village in 1988 and renamed it Evo Spa in 2004. “It seemed like a great place to be to serve a community.”

Ann has seen her business grow, with a very loyal clientele and more than 30 employees. She says the mall renovation, which began in 2004, has really helped to change the feel of Strawberry Village, which now boasts more than 50 shops, restaurants, banks and real estate offices. “It has really turned out great, with all the outdoor seating and new shops; it really works.”

Indeed, 17-year Strawberry resident and Pacific Union Realtor Joan Kermath says that the mall, the schools, the short drive to the freeway, the views and the community all come together to make Strawberry an attractive buy for those in the market. “It’s the best-kept secret: great weather and knock-your-socks-off city views,” she says. “There is a great mix of people here.”

Kermath says the original owners are selling many homes currently on the market, and those buying them are younger couples. “Many are coming from the city and either have families or a baby on the way,” she says.

As far as the current state of the market, Kermath is seeing a lot more listings and what appears to be a “renewed interest” in Strawberry homes. At press time there were 25 active listings, including seven condos or town homes. So far this year, 20 properties have sold, with a high of just over $4 million and some foreclosures forming a low of $650,000. Town homes in Strawberry can be purchased for even less, averaging around $500,000.  If your budget is a little more generous, there is a home on the market for $6.875 million.

Whether you mean to visit or to stay, it seems Strawberry is a place worth discovering.

Categories: Environment, Neighborhoods