What do you think of new building proposal on Telegraph?

Design for a new building at 2501 Haste and Telegraph, which would be partly clad in rock. Courtesy: Kirk E. Peterson & Associates

Berkeley property owner and developer Ken Sarachan has unveiled a proposal for a Moorish fortress-like building to go on the vacant lot on the north-east corner of Telegraph and Haste in Berkeley. Read the details in our story published today.

What do you think of the designs, which were created by local architect Kirk Peterson? Take our (unscientific) poll and we’ll publish the results Friday afternoon.

What do you think of the design for the new building on Telegraph, La Fortaleza?

  • I like it. (45%, 134 Votes)
  • I hate it. (27%, 79 Votes)
  • Wait, they're going to build something at last? (15%, 43 Votes)
  • I'm not sure. (14%, 40 Votes)

Total Voters: 296

Loading ... Loading ...
Print Friendly
Tagged , , , , ,
Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comments policy »
  • Bruce Love

    I can’t answer your poll because there is no option given of “It’s fabulous!”.   The options seem to only invite projecting one’s ego wishes on the site.

  • spidra

     There’s only this one drawing to judge by and any real approval would require a lot more information. However, this one drawing is very appealing.

  • If you think it’s fabulous, I would suggest you vote “I like it”. You’ll at least add your voice to those who are in favor of the design. On reflection perhaps we should have put “I love it” in there as well. Oh well, you live and learn.

  • EricPanzer

    Instead of “I like it” how about “I can haz cheez building?

  • Bryan Garcia

    You’re not sad that your beloved, rat-filled empty lot would be gone?

  • deirdre

     Nice one.

  • Bruce Love

    Tracey, we have a dialect problem.   It’s not even a US v. UK dialect problem — it’s a subculture dialect problem.

    “It’s fabulous” is not a stronger version of “I like it,” in the dialect I’m using (which grows out of but isn’t limited to gay male subculture).

    It’s more like “That’s very, very fancy” combined with “Oh.. .how special!”  with “My oh my, look at that.  That’s impressive!”    (In case those “translate” better.)

  • MJ

    I think its an intentionally ugly over-designed building proposal that is being put forth for the sole purpose of arguing in the non-judicial foreclosure and court of public opinion that the extended period of blight for that lot is due solely to obstructionist Berkeley city bureaucracy and leadership.  My guess is that building, or even a scaled down version of it, was never meant to actually make it through the planning process.

    But maybe I’m just overly jaded…

  • concerned citizen

    Stunning.  Wishing and hoping it becomes a reality.  When the apartment building idea was taking off in Manhattan, early in the last century and during the last part of the 19th century, creativity in building style was common.  This building reminds me of those times, and yet, here it is, today, in the 21st century. It invites dreams.

  • Bruce Love

    You’re not sad that your beloved, rat-filled empty lot would be gone?

     I think keeping that lot as open space would be good public policy and, long-term, helpful to private business interest  on Telegraph.

  • Hyper_lexic

    I’m not sure – hard to tell from the high-level sketch whether it would work.  And I’m pretty confused by the windows below street level… what street do those face, and what are they doing.

    BUT – at least it isn’t a rubber stamp of other Peterson projects.  I won’t restart my thread from last time – but I like it better than the Acheson Commons. I think it’s more creative and also less busy (at least in this picture).

  • Lauri

    I think it’s ugly from the drawing but I’ll take ugly (and occupied) any day of the week over what’s there now.

  • Hyper_lexic

    Just looked at the other article – I’d agree with this statement:

    Peterson said “it could be really awful or really wonderful, it’s all in the detail” 

    For me, I’m worried that the combination of Peterson + Sarachan will end up with the quantum wavestate collapsing into the awful category, but as I said, at least it’s interesting!!!

  • Bruce Love

     Oh!  Oh!  …. I thought of an even more direct translation for that usage of “fabulous”:

    “That’s fabulous” has flexible connotation but the closest literal meaning might be:  “Somebody made that to be very attention-getting and they succeeded.”

  • John Holland

    Well done! You should post on r/berkeley

    And, I’m glad to see polls catching on here!

  • Bryan Garcia

    Is Ken Sarachan a close friend of yours? A relative? Because I seriously can’t figure out why you’re always such an apologist for that commercial slum lord.

  • Bruce Love

     I gather that you didn’t mean to ask me a serious question and your main point was that you found an excuse to call Sarachan a “slum lord”.  Defaming me en passant was the excuse you used.

    I therefore think you exemplify why I am not reflexively negative towards Sarachan.   I like some of his work.

  • AnthonySanchez

    Holy. Crap. That was funny!

    Big fan of the meme.

  • The Sharkey

    Seems like a perfect fit, what with the rat infestation and all.
    A real nod to the Telegraph community.

  • serkes

    Rasputin’s Retreat in Barcelona-by-the-Bay is starting to grow on me.

    There, I’ve said it.


  • CJ_Higley

    Gaudi?  Or Gaudy?  Reminds me of a theme park or stage-set.  It might be fun if it was small enough that the owner could just tear it down when everyone gets tired of it.  On the bright side – the “Haunted Cave” aesthetic will make for a perfect temporary, seasonal Halloween Store.   Or maybe this will be the beginning of repositioning Telegraph as a carnival midway destination along the lines of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk?

  • cranky

    ewwww. Right out of ‘shreck.’

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Blue steel!

  • Parviz

    Beautiful. I hope it gets approved.

  • Berkeley Resident

    He is a horribe employer and not very stable.  Just talk to the staff at Rasputin and his other establishments.  You might like some of his work but it doesn’t change the fact that he is unkind and he takes advantage of people.

  • Berkeley Resident

    You are correct. He is just doing this to waste time and he has no intentions of building it.

  • Berkeley Resident

    Fortunately, or for fans unfortunately it is not going to get approved and Ken is just killing time and playing around.  He has nothing to lose.

  • Berkeley Resident

    We need another option….
    Is this a JOKE?!

    And the answer is YES, it is….. 

  • Berkeley Resident


  • Chris Gilbert

    It depends on the materials.  You can have a great model but if you use thin stucco walls with seams, flat aluminum windows, other details with seams, it will just look cheap, ersatz.

  • leilah

    C’mon now, Ken Sarachan is not a commercial slumlord — he’s a property pimp.

  • Bruce Love

    How?! [is the vacancy on that lot helpful.]

    It creates a large south-eastern exposure, distant views from street level, and some green (although sure, it could benefit from some landscaping).  

  • Karl Reeh

    I like this plan much better than the Asian mishmash he proposed a few years back.
    Basically ANYTHING useful will be better than the horrible rat park he owns now.

  • Greg

    Though some do a better job than others at concealing the cheap materials you’ve described nearly every mixed-use building built in Berkeley over the last 15 years.

    With the stucco panels the buildings that attempt to conceal the seams usually look the worst.  If they’re incorporated as design elements sometimes it isn’t so objectionable.  

    The cheap aluminum windows don’t look that bad (particularly at 2nd/3rd/4th floor heights) if the stiles and rails are beefy enough.

    The ‘AgeSong’ building in Emeryville is one I think does a decent job of looking substantial despite using all the same cheap materials most of the other newer buildings use.  That might be partially because the poured concrete and the broad, darkly colored aluminum trim pieces.  It also might be because I’ve only seen it from a moving car a few times.

  • Doc

    Why not get a consent decree, it is build in two years after permits, or he pleads guilty to the city’s charges against him? Call the bluff, if it so is?

  • Bruce Love

     He and the city have a contract.   The repayment of the lien is subject to that contract.

    The contract requires performances from both sides.  He’s supposed to do stuff.  The city is supposed to do stuff.

    The city is suing Sarachan for breach.    As I recall the filings (take this with a grain of salt, read them yourself) his defense is basically that the city has failed to perform its obligations.

    The situation is complicated, it appears from the filings, because the record of the agreement, its modifications over time, and which parties did what, when, is a bit twisted and confusing.

  • Berkeley Resident

    Oh yes, if it is used as a park of course it would benefit the street but I’m pretty sure that is not what Ken has in mind.  So either he builds something reasonable quickly or just turns over the land to someone who can take care of it one way or another.

  • Berkeleyfarm

    That’s my take on it:  this is him gaming the system.  It’s certainly difficult enough for anyone who WANTS to develop property to get it through the system.  Someone who doesn’t want to can stall.   Ken can afford to hire an architect to pretend like he wants to do something with the site.  That will buy him time.  If it ever got further, I’m sure he knows where to find the usual development opponents – they’re at all the meetings.   I was going to say that someone could be persuaded to argue for the empty lot but it’s been done upthread already. 

  • Kirk

    John – is that you out there?  This chatter his most amusing.  Hope all’s well.


  • John Holland

    Yes. I’m impressed, but where are you going to get a giant rock, and will there be a 1960s period convertible outside at all times? Also, will there be baccarat?

    Very creative. Out of the box? …what box?!