Congregation Kol Shofar (CKS) was founded in 1962 and by 1969 had grown to about 50 families. The congregation met at the JCC in San Rafael at Mission & Forbes streets. Around 1970 CKS purchased a small piece of land in Marinwood upon which it hoped to one day build a 7000 SF shul (only later was it determined that this location could not accommodate CKS’s needs).
Eventually CKS moved to The McPhail School in San Rafael (on Vendola Drive in the Santa Venetia District of SR) and continued to rent temporary space. Stan Deck joined Kol Shofar in 1980, soon became Chair of the Building Committee and proceeded to move the synagogue to the Larkspur-Corte Madera school (20 Magnolia) where CKS rented the lower level of the school and portable classrooms.
The search continued for a permanent home and many locations were considered including churches, school sites, industrial buildings, a site on the JCC/Rodef Shalom campus, raw land etc. Most of the opportunities were out of reach financially for a growing shul. Several months were spent analyzing the Marinwood property, exploring its use as a residential site, attending Marinwood Community Services District meetings, preparing a tentative map and negotiating with prospective buyers. The land had to be readied for sale immediately, should we find a suitable new location. Eventually CKS was fortunate to sell it for $220K, all cash, to the County to be permanently established as Open Space, dedicated for public use. Thanks to the foresight of its founders and early congregants who had purchased this land, CKS finally was in a better position to purchase its own facility.
A dear friend of Stan, Sal Bonavita, mentioned the availability of a large vacant former middle school on the Tiburon/Mill Valley line, a short ride from the freeway exit. CKS began attending Reed-Union School District meetings and after 2 years, and many discouraging moments, the District finally encouraged CKS to tender an offer for the 38,000 SF building and 5 (CKS eventually got 7) of the 22 acres surrounding it. Legal, use and zoning restrictions, however, eliminated CKS’s chances for success as a lot split could not occur until a buyer was located for the entire parcel and a Master Plan then submitted for its use to the Town of Tiburon.
Ken Kurtzman discussed the site and our interest in it with a development firm from San Francisco (Taldan Investments) which eventually made an offer for the entire piece, agreeing to sell CKS the building and 7 acres for $700,018 (35% of the $2,000,050 he offered) with a 20% down-payment and 10% “interest only” for 5 years. CKS negotiated a lease/option to purchase so that CKS could take occupancy before a Master Plan was approved. CKS moved into its new home in June 1984 at the expiration of its lease in Larkspur.
Eventually we were able to locate a subtenant for space CKS did not yet need: Children’s Circle Center, (which eventually became Ring Mountain Day School) a pre K through 5th grade non-profit school leased CKS’s empty pod and was soon paying $60K annually which covered CKS’s entire debt service. The Reed-Union School District leased CKS’s storage building at the rear of the property until CKS needed it years later.
Later Taldan defaulted on its payments to the School District. However, CKS had already exercised its option to purchase and was able to proceed as planned for the agreed upon price. The developer’s remaining 15 acres reverted back to the School District, and in 1994 a well respected local developer built 22 single family homes upon it.
Building Committee Leadership
Thank you to the many other congregants who generously contributed their time through the years, helping with all facets of the facility, including the upkeep of gardens and landscaping.
We then continued our Campaign to raise several hundred thousand more from 150 families, including a large gift from the Allan Rappaport family. When we moved in June 1984, we had structured a lease with a firm option to purchase and initial funds raised went for our security deposit /down-payment of $140K (20% of purchase price) plus funds for driveway/parking lot ($20K), roof ($45K), HVAC $58K; Engineering $15K;Sanctuary upgrade/carpeting $35K;alarm, sprinkler, lights $8K;,chairs and tables $7K; lawn and outside $2K; carpet and paint for offices, $17K; misc labor $16K. All of it – along with a loan to the General Fund, telephone system, signage, gift shop, code upgrades, fire hydrant, lock system and classroom upgrade – including the $140,000 down-payment, totaling approximately $400,000 represented the first funds spent on our permanent location. CKS was finally home!