Category Archives: Urban planning

Housing to replace Berkeley Grocery Outlet building

The zoning board approved a new development at 2001 Fourth St. in December. Image: Trachtenberg Architects
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A sprawling mixed-use housing complex, designed by Trachtenberg Architects, has been approved for Fourth Street and University Avenue in West Berkeley, along with about 8,500 square feet of retail the developer says he hopes could become a grocery store.

The 5-story, 152-unit complex at 2001 Fourth St. is set to include nearly 200 vehicle parking spots, as well as space for more than 80 bicycles and nine motorcycles. Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board approved the project at its Dec. 11 meeting nearly unanimously, with seven members in favor, Commissioner Igor Tregub voting against the project, and Commissioner Steven Donaldson recusing himself because he is a neighbor.

Read more about West Berkeley.

The project is slated to include 12 very-low-income units — to be distributed throughout the property — and will also pay $400,000 into the city’s Housing Trust Fund, which the city uses to help build additional affordable housing in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Saul’s applies to build a parklet in front of deli

A rendering shows the canopied parklet designed by architect David Trachtenberg.
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Three parking spaces in front of Saul’s Deli at 1475 Shattuck Ave. could soon be replaced by greenery and public seating.

Saul’s owner Peter Levitt has applied for a permit to build a parklet, which would be the third approved under the city’s Parklets Pilot Program launched in July 2013. The first parklet opened in front of the Cheese Board Collective in August. A second one was scheduled to open shortly after the Cheese Board parklet, in front of Philz Coffee and Guerilla Café. That scheme ran into some obstacles but is back on track. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Zoning Board considers community benefits of proposed downtown high-rise

2211 Harold Way. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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As Berkeley officials grappled with what the concept of “community benefits” actually means, the developer of the 18-story high rise at 2211 Harold Way announced at a Jan. 8 meeting of the Zoning Adjustments Board that he is willing to financially assist both the Habitot Children’s Museum and Boss, (Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency) as well as other organizations who must  relocate when the building is constructed.

Joseph Penner, head of Hill Street Investments of Los Angeles, also announced that Landmark Theaters had redesigned its plans for new theaters in the complex. There will now be nine theaters instead of the six theaters previously announced. Landmark has decided it will no longer include stadium seating in the theaters, which frees up room for additional theaters. (There are currently 11 theaters in the Shattuck Cinema complex.) … Continue reading »

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Locals worry new Cal high-rise will reduce parking

Berkeley Way West as seen from Shattuck Avenue. Photo: WRNS Studio/UC Berkeley
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Some Berkeley residents and Cal employees are worried a new UC Berkeley high-rise set to be built downtown might create parking issues.

The concerns were voiced at an open-house meeting to view and discuss the project, held Thursday in Cal’s Energy Biosciences Building at 2150 Berkeley Way.

Read more about tall building projects in Berkeley.

The Berkeley Way West academic building, set to reach 112 feet tall in some sections, will be built on top of an existing parking lot, exacerbating the tight parking situation for UC employees. UC Berkeley already demolished one main parking structure, the Oxford Way and Addison Street parking lot, in 2013 to make room for the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and plans to build a new aquatics center on top of the Tang Center parking lot on Bancroft Way. … Continue reading »

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Small residential hotel to open in Berkeley in a year

A rendering of 2711 Shattuck Ave. Image: Lowney Architecture
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A small residential hotel project in South Berkeley, from Patrick Kennedy‘s Panoramic Interests, is picking up steam after lying dormant since 2010.

Kennedy said Thursday he’s aiming to break ground in June, and would like to open for business in a year, if all goes well. He said the extended-stay units at the hotel are designed for short-term tenants, such as professors or other people coming to the city for brief periods who need a place to live.

“We just think it’s an unmet need in the city,” he said, of why he’s building a residential hotel. “We’re using it as kind of a laboratory to find a way to build housing more efficiently.”

Kennedy said he is looking into the possibility of using prefabricated components to speed up construction and allow for more affordable units on site. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley holds open house about downtown high-rise

This parking lot, between Hearst Avenue and Berkeley Way, is slated to become a high-rise to replace Tolman Hall. Image: Google maps
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The University of California at Berkeley says it is moving forward with plans to build a high-rise in downtown Berkeley — for its education, psychology and public health areas of study — and will hold an open house about the project this week.

The Berkeley Way West academic building is set to reach 112 feet at Berkeley Way and Shattuck Avenue, and span 320,000 gross square feet in a lot along Shattuck from Berkeley Way north to Hearst Avenue. The area is now used as surface parking for UC Berkeley affiliates.

According to the few details that have been released thus far by the university, the building will reach up to 112 feet at its southwest corner, but will be “stepped lower” at the northern edge of the site at Hearst.

The city of Berkeley’s Downtown Area Plan, which was adopted in 2012 after Berkeley voters endorsed its concepts in 2010, allows for the construction of three 180-foot-tall buildings, including a hotel, in Berkeley’s downtown core and outer core, and two 120-foot-high buildings. UC Berkeley has the right to build two additional 120-foot-tall structures. … Continue reading »

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A tragic death in Berkeley spurs funds for traffic beacons

Joseph Lutz small
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Nine months after a 98-year-old pedestrian was killed by a motorist while crossing Sacramento Street in a crosswalk in the middle of the day, the city is taking steps to install a flashing beacon pedestrian alert at the intersection where the accident occurred.

Joseph Luft, a Berkeley resident, psychologist and former San Francisco State University professor, was out for one of his regular strolls around lunchtime April 5 when he was hit by a car while crossing Sacramento at Bancroft Way. He died that evening at the hospital.

The driver, Robert Gilchrist, was charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and is being held in Santa Rita jail, with a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Dec. 31. Gilchrist didn’t have a valid driver’s license at the time of the accident and told police he was legally blind.

In the wake of Luft’s death, a number of residents complained to city officials about safety at the Sacramento-Bancroft intersection, which is the site of an assisted living facility, and near Washington Elementary School. Cars barreling down Sacramento, a thoroughfare, often don’t see or stop for pedestrians, even when they’re in the crosswalk, residents said. … Continue reading »

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State court hears Mitch Kapor Berkeley home case

New-pic-of-Kapor-house
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The long-running saga of philanthropist and Lotus founder Mitch Kapor’s attempt to build a new home in North Berkeley landed at the California Supreme Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday this week.

At the Dec. 2 hearing, the Court heard arguments on whether the rules that exempt most proposed single-family homes from undergoing an environmental impact report (EIR) should apply to the proposal by Kapor, and his wife Freada Kapor Klein, to build a new home with a 10-car garage at 2707 Rose St.

According to Bob Egelko, the Chronicle’s courts reporter, at the one-hour hearing Susan Brandt-Hawley, a lawyer for the Berkeley Hillside Preservation group, re-iterated arguments that have been presented to Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board (which originally approved the project in January 2010), and the Alameda County Superior Court, which subsequently denied an appeal on the case.

Brandt-Hawley said that building a “huge home” in a “landslide zone,” which will also require extensive work to widen the roadway, should amount to unusual circumstances requiring environmental review. She cited testimony by the group’s expert witness, engineer Lawrence Karp. … Continue reading »

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Deal to buy Post Office fizzles; police clear encampment

Tents on the front of the building were not being taken down at lunchtime on Thursday. Photo: Lance Knobel
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The proposal by Berkeley developers Hudson MacDonald to buy the downtown Berkeley Post Office has fallen through after they were unable to reach agreement with the Post Office on a deal.

Meanwhile, police from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service prompted an orderly clearance of parts of the makeshift encampment at Berkeley’s main Post Office Thursday morning. Protesters, who call themselves Berkeley Post Office Defenders, and a homeless advocacy group, First They Came for the Homeless, have been camped around the building for four weeks.

According to a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, officers provided protesters with a list of federal regulations and criminal statutes that prohibit the encampment. No arrests were made.  … Continue reading »

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Decades-old mural could derail Berkeley apartment project

Patrick Kennedy is hoping to build at 70-unit building at 2539 Telegraph Ave., but is concerned that a mural on the property will be landmarked, making the project unfeasible. Photo: Panoramic Interests
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After deciding the former Center for Independent Living building at 2539 Telegraph Ave. should not be a landmark, Berkeley’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is pondering whether a faded and weathered mural in the property’s back parking lot deserves that recognition — a move developer Patrick Kennedy says could kill his plans to build an apartment complex on the site.

The landmark designation of the mural might also mean that the Center for Independent Living (CIL) would lose the $3 million it would get for the sale of its building, a loss that could impact programming and the organization’s future, according to Stuart S. James, its executive director.

“The mural in its current crumbling condition means little to us,” James wrote in a letter he sent to all the members of the Berkeley City Council. The “issue … could adversely affect the future of our organization.” … Continue reading »

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Locals question Berkeley Plaza impact on theater, view

2211 Harold Way. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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Residents came out en masse Thursday night to testify before Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board about possible impacts related to a large mixed-use project planned downtown on Harold Way.

The Residences at Berkeley Plaza, at Harold and Kittredge Street, would rise 18 stories and is set to include a tower reaching, all told, nearly 200 feet. It is slated to feature about 300 units, which could either be apartments or condominiums, as well as a new six-theater cinema complex, more than 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and restaurant space, and a 171-unit underground parking structure. … Continue reading »

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Historic house trucked across People’s Park to new home

Corner Dwight/Regent. Moving into placer. Photo: Ted Friedman
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After decades of painstaking planning, a historic south Berkeley house was moved this weekend, trucked across People’s Park to its new home.

Saturday morning at the crack of dawn, the 138-year-old John Woolley house at 2509 Haste St. was hoisted one block south to 2506 Dwight St., the site of a newly developing cluster of Berkeley historic homes.

The move is part of a deal that saves the house, a city-designated landmark, while opening up its site at the corner of Haste and Telegraph Avenue for development.

“I’m glad to see it moved and preserved. It’s a significant early house in the Southside neighborhood,” said Anthony Bruce, the Executive Director of the Berkeley Architectural Historical Association (BAHA), noting that he was speaking for himself and not the organization. … Continue reading »

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New hotel project is a go again after defeat of Measure R

The developer for a downtown Berkeley hotel proposal at Shattuck and Center said his plans are on hold pending November's election. Image: JRDV Urban International
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Now that Measure R, the initiative that aimed to impose stricter standards on tall buildings, has been defeated, the project to build a hotel downtown is back on track.

Developer Jim Didion of Center Street Partners LLC had stopped all design work on the hotel planned for the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street pending the outcome of Tuesday’s vote. Didion had contended that the requirements called for by Measure R would make the project financially infeasible.

But after Measure R was delivered a resounding defeat — No on R captured almost 74% of the vote, according to the most recent tally — work was set to resume, said Matthew Taecker, one of the hotel’s consultants. He said revisiting the design will be one of the team’s first tasks. … Continue reading »

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