Category Archives: Urban planning

See plans Tuesday for new downtown Berkeley hotel

A 16-story hotel has been proposed on Center Street at Shattuck Avenue. (Click for more detail.) Image: JRDV Urban International
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A 16-story high-rise hotel under consideration in downtown Berkeley is making its way through the city approval process, with three preview meetings already completed before city panels related to development decisions. No votes have yet been taken, but are expected in the coming months.

The hotel, proposed by Jim Didion and Center Street Partners LLC, would replace the 1970s-era one-story Bank of America building and parking lot at Shattuck Avenue and Center Street. If approved, the project would transform one of the most visible corners in downtown Berkeley.

An open house about the project is scheduled for Tuesday, April 15, from 5-7 p.m. at the Marsh Theater, 2120 Allston Way. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley rolling out electric vehicle charging stations

NRG_eVgo_Freedom_Station_1
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Berkeley’s Whole Foods market unveiled two new, powerful charging stations for electric vehicles yesterday at its store at the intersection of Telegraph at Ashby. The move brings the total number of public stations in the city to four, and Berkeley is on track to gain at least a further seven stations in the not too distant future.

This will be welcome news to owners of Leafs, Volts and Teslas whose numbers are on the rise: the city has seen a 70% increase in electric vehicle registrations in the past six months, according to Sarah Moore, Assistant Planner in the city’s Office of Energy and Sustainable Development, who estimates there are around 350 electric vehicles currently registered to Berkeley residents and businesses.

The Whole Foods stations allow customers with electric cars to boost their power from zero to 80% in just 20-30 minutes if they choose their DC-Fast option.

Whole Foods is the first business to participate in a City of Berkeley pilot program to ease the permitting and installation of EV charging stations. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley kicks off Adeline corridor improvements push

New district banners, 6/6, Ashby and Adeline
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Coming up later this year, the city of Berkeley has pledged to focus some of its resources on the Adeline Street corridor in South Berkeley to address chronic problems and try to capitalize on the momentum of improvements already underway.

Last weekend, city staff and officials held a public meeting at the South Berkeley Senior Center to begin to brainstorm with local residents and merchants what some of the local priorities are.

Mayor Tom Bates, Councilman Max Anderson and city manager Christine Daniel were in attendance, along with nearly 10 other city staffers, and more than 30 members of the public, said Charles Burress from the mayor’s office. … Continue reading »

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Staff recommend denial of proposed Hillegass remodel

2610 Hillegass Ave., Berkeley, CA. Image: Google maps
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A use permit request from a Hillegass Avenue property manager who hopes to convert eight one-bedroom units into two-bedroom apartments has been recommended for denial by the city’s zoning board which meets tonight, Thursday March 13.

The proposal, at 2610 Hillegass, just south of Parker Street, would not change the building’s size, but would result in the remodel of all of the building’s one-bedroom units into two-bedrooms. The 23-unit building currently includes 10 two-bedroom units and five three-bedroom apartments. … Continue reading »

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Farm Burger, Soccer Pro, Road Runner Sports to Berkeley

Farm Burger veggie
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A new shopping destination is emerging at the intersection of 10th and Gilman streets in West Berkeley. Three new businesses have just signed leases to move into Gilman Crossings, a commercial hub whose transition was kickstarted by Whole Foods’ decision to move into the area last year.

Soccer Pro and Road Runner Sports are both opening up in the complex formerly known as Gilman Village, and Jason Mann will open the first west coast outlet of Farm Burger, a farm-to-table restaurant that will hopefully incorporate a boutique-style craft brewery. They will join Philz Coffee and Doughnut Dolly as new tenants who have already signed leases. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley building set for Northside comes under fire

Rendering, dated October 2013, of the planned UC Berkeley Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation building, as it will look from Ridge Road in Berkeley. Image. Berkeley Engineering
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Neighbors to a proposed new UC Berkeley building say its modern design, and the need to remove several trees in the area in order to build it, are threats to the aesthetic and value of the historic Northside neighborhood. And the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) agrees.

The Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, a new College of Engineering design facility, is set to replace the volleyball court at Le Roy Avenue and Ridge Road. The 20,000 gross sq ft building, funded by a $20 million gift from the Paul and Stacey Jacobs Foundation, will have three stories, with the first story being partially underground.

BAHA sent a letter to UC Berkeley in October objecting to the proposed building’s “alienating institutional look,” and suggested the planners consider a design that bears more “relation to the surrounding historic resources.” … Continue reading »

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A dig in a Berkeley parking lot seeks shellmound answers

An archeological dig is currently underway in the parking lot of Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto on Berkeley’s Fourth Street. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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So what’s lurking behind the recently erected wire fence around the Spenger’s parking lot, on Berkeley’s Fourth Street?

That’s precisely what the property owners are trying to find out with an archeological dig. And not for the first time.

“My hope is to clarify what cultural resources might exist so we can make the best decision on the use of the property from the standpoint of all concerned,” said Dana Ellsworth, whose family business, Ruegg and Ellsworth, co-owns the lot with a Spenger’s family entity. (They don’t own Spenger’s restaurant.) … Continue reading »

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Berkeley BART plaza workshop comes Monday

An early conceptual rendering of the new Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza.
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A new project underway to improve the BART plaza in downtown Berkeley is gaining steam, with a public workshop scheduled for Monday afternoon.

The project, funded in part by a grant from the Alameda County Transportation Commission, includes renovation of the BART entrances, a new bus shelter and a redesigned Constitution Plaza. It is estimated to cost $11.44 million, most of which will be covered by the grant.

Members of the public will have a chance to review the project goals and timeline, meet the design team and share opinions about design sustainability, transit infrastructure, bike and pedestrian amenities, and downtown commerce and arts. … Continue reading »

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New 16-story hotel proposed for downtown Berkeley

Center Street Partners wants to construct a 16-story, 293 room hotel complex at Shattuck and Center. Photo: Center Street Partners
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A Carmel-based developer and UC Berkeley graduate will submit plans to Berkeley tomorrow to construct a 16-story, 180-foot-tall hotel with office space, meeting rooms and retail space at the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street.

The new complex, proposed by Jim Didion and Center Street Partners LLC, would replace the 1970s-era one-story Bank of America building and parking lot, and, if approved, transform one of the most visible corners in downtown Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Improving Telegraph Ave. on new UC official’s ‘to-do’ list

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You know UC Berkeley’s newly appointed vice chancellor for real estate has an open-minded attitude when he says tackling the issues at People’s Park might be a “fun challenge” and looks forward to “getting some things done” to help revitalize Telegraph Avenue.

Robert J. Lalanne, a UC Berkeley alumnus and trustee of the university’s foundation, brings 25 years of real estate and development experience to the new position, which was formally announced Tuesday.

As founder of The Lalanne Group, he has spearheaded commercial, residential and mixed-use projects in San Francisco and other Bay Area counties. He will oversee all of Cal’s construction projects, seek “innovative financing” for new buildings, be the point man for facilities and manage 500 employees.

All for nothing a year.

Lalanne will donate his salary back to the university, according to a university press release. … Continue reading »

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‘Moorish-style palace’ for Telegraph Ave. is step closer

Image: Kirk E. Peterson & Associates
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A six-story, mixed-use, Moorish, palace-like structure inspired by Italian hill towns is one step closer to being built on Berkeley’s iconic Telegraph Avenue after the project sailed through a review by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board last week.

ZAB commissioners were generally receptive to the building’s unusual design, according to Commissioner Steven Donaldson.

Addressing the architect of the project, Kirk E. Peterson, ZAB Commissioner Shoshana O’Keefe said she approved of the design. “It’s weird and I like that,” she said. O’Keefe said she grew up in Berkeley, had always appreciated the “weirdness” of Telegraph Avenue, and that it was good to see something unusual, “a little different,” proposed for the area. … Continue reading »

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Center Street garage slated for demolition, expansion

The Center Street garage is slated for reconstruction. Image: Google Maps
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Parking in downtown Berkeley may get harder before it gets easier as a new project ramps up to demolish and rebuild the Center Street garage to add hundreds of spaces, improve seismic security and incorporate “green building” standards.

The project is expected to strain parking demand downtown, where availability is often scarce already. City staff have been working to improve the parking situation via its goBerkeley campaign, which has been underway this year. Merchants have been keeping a close eye on the Center Street project and say they hope the city will be thoughtful as it moves ahead.

The five-story Center Street parking garage — which has entrances on both Addison and Center streets — has 420 spaces, ground floor retail and was built in the 1950s, according to the staff report prepared for last week’s Berkeley City Council meeting. Tuesday night, as part of the consent calendar, the Council approved paying up to $1 million to a consultant who will plan and manage the project.  … Continue reading »

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New 120-foot building proposed for downtown Berkeley

The Nasser family has owned this building complex since 1950 and now plans to turn it into a 12-story apartment complex. photo: Google Maps
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A San Francisco family that has owned a block of stores on Shattuck Avenue and Berkeley Way since 1950 is planning to build a 120-foot tall apartment complex that will cater to empty nesters and families.

The Nasser family, whose ancestor, Abraham Nasser, built the Castro Theater in San Francisco and was instrumental in popularizing Nickelodeon theaters, will submit an application to Berkeley on Dec. 19, according to Jim Novosel, whose firm, The Bay Architects, is designing the project. Novosel’s group will hold a public hearing on the complex Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Bistro Liaison, 1849 Shattuck Ave.

The 12-story, mixed-use development at 1951-1975 Shattuck Ave. will have 78 apartments of 1,200 to 1,600 square feet on 10 floors, and retail space on two floors, said Novosel. The complex will be set back along Shattuck Avenue to create a plaza, and will be set back 14-17 feet along Berkeley Way as well. … Continue reading »

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