Category Archives: Urban planning

Community helps plan new South Berkeley parklet

YSA mural. Photo: Kathleen Costanza
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After months of deliberating and design tweaks, last Thursday youth and community members put the final touches on plans for a new parklet alongside Alchemy Collective Café on Ellis Street and Alcatraz Avenue in South Berkeley.

Gathering in Youth Spirit Artworks, an arts and job training program that serves homeless and low-income youth, the meeting was the last of four community meetings and two workshops which hashed out a number of neighborhood concerns. The group plans to submit the parklet designs and apply for a city permit in the coming weeks.

Read more about the story of Berkeley’s parklets.

“We want the parklet to show what the South Berkeley community can produce,” said 17-year-old Rayven Wilson, one of several Youth Spirit Artworks youth leaders who took part in the planning process. Wilson said that, for YSA youth, the most important aspects of the parklet’s design was that it was colorful, versatile, and that it tied into the mural behind it that depicts South Berkeley community members and musicians.

“We want it to look like us,” she said. … Continue reading »

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Housing forum: Climate right for development in Berkeley

Denise Pinkston, vice-chair of ZAB and an Oakland-based developer, talks to a group about the housing crisis in the state while Mark Rhoades of the Rhoades Planning Group listens. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The development climate in Berkeley has improved so much in the past six years that there are now approximately 2,500 apartment units in the pipeline — a dramatic change from the two decades between 1970 and 1990 when only 600 units were built, according to experts who spoke at a forum on multi-family development held in Berkeley on Jan. 21 .

The city is no longer looked upon as a place just to build student housing. With its foodie culture, rich history, music and art scenes, ­as well as the ability it affords developers to charge higher rents than in Oakland and other East Bay cities, Berkeley is now a popular place to build.

Read more about Berkeley development on Berkeleyside.

“Berkeley is no longer this campus college market,” said Stephen Lawton, volunteer program leader for the non-profit Urban Land Institute which hosted the event at the David Brower Center in downtown Berkeley.  “The hot San Francisco market is finally reaching across the bay in this cycle.” … Continue reading »

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180-foot high-rise proposed over Berkeley Walgreens

Terrace Green Apartments is proposed at 2190 Shattuck. Image: WRNS Studio
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A San Mateo-based developer has submitted an application to build a 180-foot-tall mixed-use high-rise in downtown Berkeley over a redesigned Walgreens store.

Shattuck Terrace Green Apartments at 2190 Shattuck Ave., just north of Allston Way, is set to include 274 units, 12,000 square feet of commercial space, and a 19,000-square-foot underground garage with spots for more than 80 vehicles. The 18-story structure would replace a 2-story retail building. Walgreens is there now, and is expected to return if Terrace Green is built, according to project documents.

Read more about tall buildings proposed in Berkeley in past Berkeleyside coverage.

The city’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 in Berkeley’s downtown core, and two 120-foot-high buildings. UC Berkeley has the right to build two more 120-foot structures. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Utility-free restrooms in Cesar Chavez Park — A briefing

Photo: courtesy Martin Nicolaus
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The need for permanent restrooms in Cesar Chavez Park has been on the City’s agenda since at least 1977, when the North Waterfront Park Land Use Plan said that “of course, a park headquarters building and restroom structures will be needed for the park to function.” [1] The 1991 Conceptual Master Plan for North Waterfront Park envisioned restrooms as part of a constructed park entry area.[2] “Permanent restrooms” in the park formed part of the 2003 … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: An open letter to the Landmark Preservation Commission about Telegraph Village

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To the Landmark Preservation Commissioners:

At your Jan. 7 meeting, you acted to dismiss landmark (or related) status for a quaint, “uncategorizable”, unsafe, barely patronized — and utterly unique and irreplaceable — relic of ‘the Ingrate Generation’. In so doing, you really have felt the pulse of our times.

In denying the application of ‘The Village’ (2556 Telegraph) for landmark (or related) status, of all Berkeley’s national and city landmarks, only three 60s/70s-era sites remain so honored. One is the … Continue reading »

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Urban planning

Zoning board approves new units on Telegraph, Shattuck

The Nexus at 2539 Telegraph Ave. has been approved. Image: Lowney Architecture
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Berkeley’s zoning board approved two largely car-free buildings Thursday set to add 92 new residential units to the city’s housing stock.

Both of the projects — 70 units on Telegraph Avenue and 22 units on Shattuck Avenue — were proposed by Patrick Kennedy’s Berkeley-based Panoramic Interests.

The Telegraph project, dubbed The Nexus, is set to take the place of a 1-story office building where the nationally recognized Center for Independent Living got its start. The center has since moved to a new home at the Ed Roberts Campus and representatives from the organization told the Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday that a decision on the Telegraph property would help them move ahead with their own plans for the organization’s future.

The Nexus, which also has an entrance on Regent Street, is set to reach 6 stories on the Telegraph side, and include about 5,200 square feet of commercial space, some of which could one day be a café. Nine vehicle parking spots are planned for the retail area, and 144 bike parking spots are included. Building residents will not be allowed to seek residential parking permits under existing city rules. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley approves construction of Harold Way high-rise

The zoning board voted to certify the Harold Way EIR on Thursday night. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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After three years and 37 public meetings, the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday night approved plans to build an 18-story, 302-unit mixed-use complex in Berkeley’s downtown.

The vote, which followed five hours of public testimony, requires the developer, HSR Berkeley Investments, to pay $4.5 million into the city’s Housing Trust Fund, on top of the $6 million it is already obligated to pay. That $10.5 million can be leveraged with state and federal funds to construct about 105 units of affordable housing, according to city staff. The developer will also have to pay $1 million into an arts fund, with $250,000 of that going soon to Habitot Children’s Museum to help it relocate, among other fees.

                           Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of 2211 Harold Way.

“I think it’s a major improvement for our city,” Mayor Tom Bates said after the meeting about the project slated for 2211 Harold Way. “It sends a sign we’re serious about climate change. The building is LEED Gold. It’s a block from BART. It’s going to contribute seriously to the city’s coffers. It’s a great win-win.” … Continue reading »

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Construction to begin on 8-story building in downtown

Berkeley Way West as seen from Shattuck Avenue. Photo: WRNS Studio/UC Berkeley
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By Yasmin Anwar/Berkeley News

Construction is scheduled to begin this month on an 8-story complex in downtown Berkeley to house the campus’ Graduate School of Education, School of Public Health and the Department of Psychology.

The 320,000-square-foot building at Berkeley Way and Shattuck Avenue will replace Tolman Hall, built in 1965, which has been deemed seismically unsafe and will be demolished once the new building opens in fall 2017. Tolman Hall currently houses the Graduate School of Education in one wing, and the psychology department in the other. The School of Public Health is headquartered in University Hall.

Read more on the Berkeley Way West project on Berkeleyside.

Dubbed Berkeley Way West, the project will include more than 7,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, and classrooms, offices, open workstations and collaborative space on the floors above. A courtyard on the east side of the building will connect to a pedestrian walkway at the adjacent Energy Biosciences Building. The total cost for the project is estimated to be around $150 million, and will be paid for with private and state funding. … Continue reading »

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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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