The historic Marshall Tavern on Tomales Bay, vacant for more than two decades, will be remodeled into a bed-and-breakfast inn under a plan that has received approval from a key state agency.

The structure could get new life as owners Daniel Altman and Avi Atid prepare plans to repair the dilapidated building in far West Marin.

"Our next step is to get a building permit from Marin," said Altman, who has owned the property for the last seven years. "We hope to start work this year, but there are a few more things to do."

The plan received approval from the California Coastal Commission last month, with the proviso that public access be included as part of the project. A condition of the agency's approval is that a 15-foot wide public dock extending 100 feet into Tomales Bay be rebuilt adjacent to the tavern.

"It would go where a pier once was," said Madeline Cavalieri, a manager at the commission. "There are still pilings there. There would also be a floating dock attached for kayaks and other uses."

Altman said he is willing to rebuild the pier if the county didn't have objections. He also said the historic exterior of the structure would stay the same, save for new siding to replace its worn shell.

The plan will remodel the tavern building into a 5,880-square-foot, six-bedroom residence for use as a five-bedroom bed-and-breakfast, and a manager's unit.

"It's a good project that will keep a historic building from falling into the water," said Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey, who gave the plan a nod as a member of the coastal commission. His supervisorial district also includes Marshall.

The plan provides for eight parking spaces and numerous improvements, including repair and reinforcement of the structure, installation of additional bayside windows, installation of solar panels and skylights, interior remodeling and construction of exterior decks. An old shack would be demolished.

The Marshall Hotel and the Marshall Tavern were built prior to construction of a railroad along Tomales Bay. The hotel was built by the Marshall brothers, dairymen, in 1870 and called the Bay View Hotel. It was a retreat and resting place for fishermen, hunters and sportsmen. The tavern was built by the brothers in 1873, originally serving as a soda shop and hardware store.

A Northwestern Pacific Railroad map shows that in 1915 the site contained a dock, located adjacent to the store, that predated the tavern on the southeast side, with a shed and gas house at its end. The hotel burned to the ground in 1971.

Although it has been modified over the years, the tavern building has basically retained its historic appearance. The tavern has been vacant since 1990, and since then efforts by a series of owners to develop it have been fruitless.