Category Archives: Urban planning

Berkeley ZAB round-up: The Roost approved on Blake, Center Street hotel previewed, Kennedy project put off

"The Roost," looking east toward Shattuck Avenue, at 2029-2035 Blake St. Image: Devi Dutta Architecture
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Thursday night the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board approved a 5-story mixed-use project near downtown, previewed updated plans for a hotel on Center Street and postponed a decision related to a proposed residential hotel on Shattuck Avenue that the developer would like to convert to studio apartments.

“The Roost,” with parklet and dog park, approved on Blake near Shattuck

The board was unanimous in its vote to approve “The Roost,” an 82-unit project at 2029-2035 Blake St., just west of Shattuck. The 5-story building is also set to include two live-work units, about 1,900 square feet of ground-floor retail, 68 parking spaces in a basement-level garage and 67 bike parking spots. Two of the vehicle spaces will be dedicated car-share spots, and there will be 16 EV-ready parking stalls provided.

Commissioner Sophie Hahn asked the developer, represented by Mark Rhoades of the Rhoades Planning Group, to commit to include four units of below-market-rate housing on site, with four additional units either to be built on the property or paid for through fees into the city’s Housing Trust Fund. After conferring briefly with his client, Rhoades agreed to the request. … Continue reading »

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Equity Residential to sell 8 Berkeley apartment buildings

Four of the Berkeley properties Equity Residential is selling. Photo: Eastdil Secured
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Equity Residential, which owns eight buildings with 452 apartments in Berkeley, as well as the entitlement rights to build the 205-unit Acheson Commons complex on University Avenue, is putting its entire Berkeley portfolio up for sale.

No price is mentioned on the listing documents prepared by Eastdil Secured, Equity’s advisor and broker, but the sale should be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. That could mean millions of dollars in transfer taxes for Berkeley’s general fund. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley plans 8-story building with student housing

A concept diagram for the proposed Stiles Hall building. Image: Solomon Cordwell Buenz
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Update, Nov. 19, 5:58 p.m. We hear from David Stark, executive director of Stiles Hall, a bit more about the organization’s plans and perspective: “We would like to let our hundreds of supporters know that Stiles Hall has been in negotiations on this since its inception. We are excited about getting a new modern space in the development which will continue to be owned by Stiles Hall, independent of the University. They will also give us a nearby space to continue operations for the two years it’s being built. Overall, we couldn’t be more pleased.”

Original story, Nov. 16, 2 p.m. The University of California, Berkeley is planning to demolish a small building on Bancroft Way to make way for an 8-story mixed-use project set to house nearly 800 students.

An open house is planned for Monday, Nov. 16, from 6-7:30 p.m.

The new building would feature new ground-floor retail, as well as replacement space for existing programming. About 770 students would be housed in 19 “pods” described as “distinct communities” of 40 students each, most of whom would be in double-occupancy units.

“The primary purpose of the project is to provide incoming first year students state-of-the-art dormitory style residential accommodations,” according to a statement released by the university earlier this month. “Each pod will include a dedicated resident advisor, study lounge, and a pair of gender inclusive bathroom facilities.”

An existing surface parking lot for UC Berkeley affiliates would be replaced by the new building and “related landscape improvements.” … Continue reading »

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Numerous appeals filed for Berkeley’s Harold Way project

The zoning board voted to certify the Harold Way EIR on Thursday night. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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A number of different groups – including the developer himself – have filed appeals asking the Berkeley City Council to overturn various permit approvals for 2211 Harold Way in downtown Berkeley.

Mark Rhoades, acting on behalf of the property owner, Joseph Penner of HSR Berkeley Investment LLC, asked the council to reconsider the permit awarded last month by the Zoning Adjustments Board for the 18-story, 305-unit property. ZAB included a provision requiring HSR owner Joseph Penner to donate $5.5 million in cash for community benefits as a condition of approval.

The figure is too high and doesn’t give Penner proper credit for rebuilding 10 movie theaters and other things, Rhoades wrote in the appeal.

Read more about tall building projects in Berkeley.

ZAB “disregarded guidance from City Council members,” Rhoades wrote. That action “has caused a significant imbalance in the project’s financial profile jeopardizing the project and compromising the legal foundation of the city’s approval.” … Continue reading »

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Have your say on two downtown Berkeley projects

The intersection of Shattuck and University avenues is the second most dangerous intersection in Berkeley for pedestrian collisions and near-misses. The city hopes to change that with the Shattuck reconfiguration project. Image: Google Maps
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The city is seeking community input on two downtown Berkeley projects — the Shattuck Reconfiguration Project and the modernization of the Downtown Berkeley BART station. There are two separate online surveys to take and, in the case of the Shattuck project, there’s a Transportation Commission meeting Thursday to learn more and provide input. The meeting will be held on Oct. 15 at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave., at 7 p.m.

The city is altering the traffic flow and sidewalks on Shattuck Avenue, between University and Allston Way, to create safer and easier travel by foot, car, bike, and bus.

Take the survey, which is open until Oct, 30. (There’s a drawing to win a free iPad).

According to the city, the goal of the project is for pedestrians to be able to better enjoy downtown as a walkable space. Cars and buses should experience less congestion, and bicyclists should gain safety and ease, they say. … Continue reading »

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Aduro Biotech leases entire West Berkeley building

Wareham Development has rebuilt a historic building at 740 Heinz Avenue as part of its Aquatic Park Center, an 18-acre biotech campus in West Berkeley.
Photo: Wareham Development
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By Lisa Tsering

A biotech company that did the largest IPO in Berkeley history has leased an entire West Berkeley warehouse and will move its labs and offices there by 2016, helping to bolster the city’s reputation as a world-class life sciences hub.

Aduro Biotech Inc., led by UC Berkeley biochemist Stephen T. Isaacs, specializes in creating drugs designed to strengthen the immune system to fight off cancer. They work on some of the toughest-to-fight tumors, such as pancreatic cancer and mesothelioma.

The company went public in April, raising $119 million in Berkeley’s largest-ever initial public offering. It currently employs around 80 people in a smaller space on Bancroft Way. … Continue reading »

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Work at Berkeley’s Terrace View Park delayed, again

Terrace View Park, Berkeley. Photo: Kathleen Costanza
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Renovation work at Terrace View Park in North Berkeley, originally scheduled to be completed by Sept. 15, has been pushed back until Oct. 30 due to construction complications. Located between Fairlawn Drive and Queens Road, the park has been closed off completely since April 27.

The work includes renovating the basketball courts on the lowest level of the park and adding access ramps for people with disabilities. In February, the city awarded the bid to McNabb Construction for $347,155. The renovation is funded by 2008’s bond Measure WW, which gave the city nearly $5 million to spend on parks over 10 years, as well as the Capital Improvement Fund.

But after further testing, a storm drain was discovered to be badly damaged and needed to be fixed first, according to an email to a resident from Scott Ferris, director of Parks, Water and Recreation, and confirmed by city spokesperson Matthai Chakko. The city awarded that bid to W. R. Forde Associates, and the storm drain portion of construction ended in June, delaying the rest of the renovation. … Continue reading »

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John King: Keeping downtown Berkeley’s design distinctive is a tall order

BAM:PFA. Photo- Paul Chinn, The Chronicle
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By John King / San Francisco Chronicle

A walk through downtown Berkeley reveals a treasure of pre-World War II architecture, different styles and materials blending together in comfortable structures that were built for their time but seem to grow in stature with each passing decade.

The newer buildings? Not so much. And the ones on deck — one as tall as anything now there — could be even less satisfying.

The problem isn’t the scale of what’s proposed, or the architectural mishmash in the mix. It’s the way that a confusing process encourages checklists over creativity, while opponents would rather fight to stop nearly all change, rather than find ways to make that change enrich downtown’s sense of place.

Nearly 20 projects are now in the works in the area roughly bounded by Berkeley Way on the north, Dwight Way on the south, UC Berkeley on the east and the Civic Center on the west. … Continue reading »

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Adeline report highlights desire for affordable housing

Neighbors present their vision for the Adeline Corridor while city consultants act as scribe. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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The city of Berkeley unveiled its preliminary existing conditions report for the Adeline Corridor planning project at a packed community meeting Saturday, Aug. 29.

The presentation was the culmination of five months spent gathering community input on the Adeline Corridor grant, a $750,000 award from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in 2014. Money from the grant can only be used for planning purposes in the “corridor,” which covers about 100 acres stretching south from Dwight Way to the Berkeley/Oakland border.

Read past Berkeleyside coverage related to the Adeline Corridor.

Throughout the spring and summer, the city collected 1,118 surveys at “IDEA Centers” set up at neighborhood venues, online and through a youth outreach effort. The report summarizes survey respondents’ desires and concerns, and details recent demographic and economic changes in the project area.

“Clearly the number one thing that people said was their issue and challenge and something they’d like to improve in the neighborhood” was affordable housing, said Mukul Malhotra, principal at MIG, the Berkeley-based consultant hired by the city to oversee the grant.

The risk of displacement in the area is “significant and ongoing,” said Malhotra at the meeting, which reportedly brought more than 150 attendants to Harriet Tubman Terrace, at 2870 Adeline St. … Continue reading »

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Two historic Berkeley homes get a makeover

The John Woolley house is the blue-gray one and the Ellen Blood House is the yellow one. The owners, architect, and builder worked hard to restore the turreted window on the Woolley House. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Two historic Berkeley homes with a combined age of 263 years have been given a complete makeover, and their doors were opened Tuesday to show off their shiny new parts.

The John Woolley House, first built on Telegraph Avenue in 1876, and the Ellen Blood House, constructed on Durant Avenue in 1891, were moved in 2014 to a new location on Regent Street and Dwight Way. John Gordon of Gordon Commercial Realty and his wife, Janis Mitchell, who bought the homes for $1 each, restored, renovated, and expanded the two houses using as much original material as possible. They also added a floor to the Woolley house. Gone are two decaying, although historic homes. In their place are five gleaming apartments with all the trappings of 21st century living: sleek appliances, gas fireplaces with marble mantles, and high-tech flooring. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley neighbors say affordability will be key to proposed Adeline Street project

Conceptual plans for 2902 Adeline, which the developer says will likely change as the project goes through the entitlement process. Image: Trachtenberg Architects
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About 40 people crammed into the community room at the South Branch of the Berkeley Public Library on Wednesday night to hear about a new project proposed at Adeline and Russell streets, and offer feedback to the developer.

The project — which would replace AW Pottery at 2908 Adeline — is in its very early stages, and has not yet been submitted to the city of Berkeley, said developer Cody Fornari of San Francisco-based real estate firm Realtex. Fornari said the South Berkeley property, at 2902 Adeline St., is currently in escrow and has not officially changed hands.

Realtex is also working on a proposal to construct a 7-story building on Telegraph Avenue — where restaurants including Norikonoko and Finfiné have been in operation for more than two decades. The company also won approval last year for a 5-story building at University and McGee avenues, but has not yet broken ground.

Throughout the info session, many in attendance expressed concern about the project — still in the “conceptual phase” —  which is currently set to include 47 residential units, eight live-work units and 18 parking spaces. The building is proposed to reach 6 stories, or 65 feet tall. … Continue reading »

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Hundreds gather in Berkeley to remember balcony victims

Hundreds gathered in Civic Center Park Sunday night for a "Month's Mind" to honor and remember those killed in the June 16 balcony collapse. Photo: Ted Friedman
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A month after a fifth-floor balcony snapped off the façade of 2020 Kittredge St. in Berkeley, sending six people in their 20s to their deaths and injuring seven others, hundreds of people gathered at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park on Sunday to honor them.

The event was a “Month’s Mind,” a traditional Irish requiem mass held a month after a death, according to Philip Grant, the Irish consul general in San Francisco. It is meant to remember and honor the deceased. There is a moment of silence for reflection.

“It’s a moment of reflection on what happened and where we’ve come,” said Grant. … Continue reading »

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Juhu Beach Club backs effort for Temescal parklet

Photo: Juhu Beach Club
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On Tuesday, Juhu Beach Club launched a crowdfunding campaign to transform two parking spaces into a community parklet at 510 51st Street in Temescal. The parklet is one of 16 to have recently been approved by the city of Oakland. Other restaurants whose plans were given the go-ahead include Boot & Shoe Service, Stag’s Lunchette, and Antidote Juicery.

The 51st Street parklet will be located by the Temescal Triangle, in front of Juhu Beach Club, a popular Indian street-food restaurant owned by former “Top Chef” contestant Preeti Mistry and her wife Ann Nadeau.

Juhu Beach Club is the primary business sponsor of the initiative, and Mistry hopes to raise $29,000 through an Indiegogo campaign to fund the project. The campaign will run for eight weeks, and Mistry said that construction will start as soon as they secure the funding. … Continue reading »

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