Fire

Telegraph site owner plans for temporary resurrection

Designs for the Sequoia site include temporary tents and kitchens in cargo containers. Photo: courtesy Kirk E. Peterson & Associates Architects

The owners of the old Sequoia Building site on the corner of Telegraph and Haste last week submitted plans to the city of Berkeley to enable them to reopen Raleigh’s and Café Intermezzo, two restaurant businesses that were gutted by the fire that destroyed the 1916 building on November 18th, 2011. If approved, the plans would also allow them to launch Gabriella’s, a restaurant they owned but had not yet opened on the site, and which also burned down.

Designs, drawn up by Oakland architect Kirk Peterson for owner Greg Ent, call for three canopy-like tents fixed to concrete pads, along with three shipping containers which would be used to house kitchens. The idea is to resurrect the restaurants on a temporary basis while planning a new apartment building to replace the one lost to the fire.

“It will have an ad hoc quality, but could be really fun,” said Peterson. “It’s a unique application and no-one has ever done this here which puts it into its own category. The owners want to get their businesses up and running again and the city is interested in moving things along as quickly as possible to help the neighborhood.”

Long term plans for the site are for a new building. Photo: courtesy Kirk E. Peterson & Associates Architects

Shipping containers were used in San Francisco’s Proxy project in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, a temporary two-block set-up which plays host to food and coffee vendors among others.


The City of Berkeley is reviewing the Ents’ permit application, which includes a two-week public posting period. The hope is the new temporary solution might be operational by May.

Peterson, who has designed several major Berkeley buildings, including Trader Joe’s and the Bachenheimer Building, is also working with the owner of Thai Noodle II which abuts the Sequoia site and which was damaged by firefighters working to quell the five-alarm blaze on November 18th.

In addition, Peterson has been engaged by Ken Sarachan, the owner of the vacant lot opposite the Sequoia Building site, and is working on plans for a new, mixed-use building there which have not yet been submitted to the city.

The Sequoia site as it looked on February 6th, 2012. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Update, 3:58 pm: The city of Berkeley released the final investigation report on the Sequoia fire today, shortly after 3:00 pm. The report, written by Fire Marshal John Fitch, is consistent with the initial investigations, and concludes that the fire originated “in and around the steel compartment where the elevator resisters (were) located”. Every indication suggests the fire was accidental. View the full report.

Related:
As Sequoia rubble removed, plans made for new structure [01.04.12] 
Telegraph named a disaster zone to help the fire-affected [12.14.11] 
Sequoia fire aftermath: Cause, rights, future under scrutiny [12.07.11]
Demolition of Sequoia Building halted after wall collapse [12.02.11]
A Berkeley building is turned into a heap of rubble, debris [12.01.11]
Sequoia fire accidental, started in elevator machinery [11.30.11]
Berkeley’s 95-year-old Sequoia Building is brought down [11.29.11]
Sequoia: Demolition imminent as tenants meet to complain [11.28.11]
The Sequoia Building: At heart of Berkeley’s rich heritage [11.23.11]
Friday’s fire “another hit in the face” for Telegraph Avenue [11.21.11]
“Largest fire since 1991″ leaves many locals homeless [11.19.11]
Devastating fire in apartment building, Haste at Telegraph [11.19.11]