Tag Archives: Berkeley Downtown Area Plan
A 205-unit apartment complex planned for downtown Berkeley is going back to the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board after an appeal before the City Council on Tuesday night.
Acheson Commons, at 2133 University Ave., was approved by the zoning board in December, but appellants questioned numerous aspects of the project and the council voted unanimously to ask the board to take another look. (See project materials on the city website. The complete administrative record is available here.)
According to the staff report prepared for Tuesday’s special session, the project is set to increase annual tax revenue by $57,000 and bring in $360,000 to support the city’s Streets and Open Space Improvement Plan. (Update, 1 p.m.: A representative for the developer, Mark Rhoades, said the per-year tax basis increase is closer to $600,000. Scroll down to see a chart of the five-year financial projections he provided.) … Continue reading »
City zoning commissioners asked for more excitement and creativity from developers after a preview last Thursday night of a 355-unit 17-story rental high-rise planned for downtown Berkeley.
The Residences at Berkeley Plaza, at 2211 Harold Way, have been described by developers as “an environmentally sustainable, transit-oriented mixed-use development that will bring new vitality to the core of downtown Berkeley consistent with all of the policy and zoning standards set forth in the new Downtown Area Plan.” (Read more about the project in past Berkeleyside coverage.)
Amenities presented to the Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday, March 14, included landscaped roof-top open spaces with heated trellises, a wide range of sustainable building features and a public plaza that would connect all four sides of the block (Allston Way, Shattuck Avenue, Kittredge Street and Harold Way). … Continue reading »
The Zoning Adjustments Board approved a new 78-unit apartment building for downtown Berkeley in a 5-2-1 vote Thursday night.
But opponents of the plan, who have criticized the new building’s potential impacts on its neighbors, say they will definitely appeal the decision to the City Council.
The building, called “The Durant,” is set to have frontage on both Durant Avenue and Channing Way; it’s set mid-block between Shattuck Avenue and Milvia Street. The south side of the building is proposed to rise to four stories, and the north side to reach six. (The developer had originally proposed eight stories on the north side but recently reduced it to six after the City Council lowered fees relating to affordable housing requirements.) … Continue reading »
The view from the L-shaped deck off the penthouse apartment at 2055 Center St. is spectacular. One side looks west toward San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Another side offers a sweeping vista of Berkeley’s downtown and hills.
For $6,300 a month, the amenities ought to be top-of-the-line, and at the recently opened Berkeley Central — formerly known as the Arpeggio Building — they are. From Bosch appliances and stainless steel designer lights to the wood floor (dark or light, depending on the unit), the six penthouse units on the ninth floor promise an urbane, urban lifestyle.
The building, which the developer CityView acquired in a fire sale in July 2012 for $60 million, has been open for about seven weeks, and about 35% of its 143 units have been leased, according to Natasha Moses, a property manager for Riverstone Residential Group, the leasing agent. … Continue reading »
Berkeley City Council last night unanimously approved both the Downtown Streets & Open Space Improvement Plan (SOSIP) and a schedule of fees that will help fund the proposed projects. SOSIP aims to help create a more pedestrian-oriented neighborhood downtown, and will help guide the design of parks, plazas and streetscapes in the area.
The SOSIP is the first concrete action on the streets and open space provisions of the Downtown Area Plan, which was approved by the council in March 2012.
“I’m very excited about a lot of the projects put forward,” said council member Jesse Arreguín, whose district includes downtown. ”If we can do even a fraction of these projects, it would really make a difference in making downtown a much more pedestrian friendly and vibrant environment.”
The major projects identified in the SOSIP as priorities are: … Continue reading »
The Council of Neighborhood Associations, which has been operating since 1975 but which gained renewed energy in 2009 when it successfully placed a measure on the ballot to rescind an earlier version of the Downtown Area Plan, is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed in May in Alameda County Superior Court. The other two groups, Friends of Downtown Berkeley and Berkeley Citizens for Responsible Planning, were only formed recently.
The lawsuit alleges that Berkeley erred when it adopted the Downtown Plan because it did not prepare a new EIR, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Instead, the city used the EIR that had been prepared in 2009 for one of the plan’s precursors, according to Rachel Mansfield-Howlett, the Sonoma County attorney who is representing the neighborhood groups. … Continue reading »
One of the first projects to be built under Berkeley’s recently adopted Downtown Area Plan will be Acheson Commons which will transform the entire city block bordered by University Avenue, Shattuck and Walnut streets, and Berkeley Way.
The project, which has been under discussion for some time, was the subject of a rare joint meeting of the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Design Review Committee on March 29.
The proposal for the area sees the creation of 205 new residential units and above-ground floor retail space. The developer is Equity Residential, of Chicago which builds and owns rental housing projects nationwide. EQR previously purchased the Bachenheimer Building at 2119 University Avenue from local developer Patrick Kennedy, and subsequently bought the adjacent properties. … Continue reading »
On Tuesday, downtown Berkeley was born anew. Billed as a fresh start, the heart of the city was relaunched to a capacity crowd in the ballroom of the Hotel Shattuck Plaza on Allston Way.
For the past three months, the Downtown Berkeley Association has been overseeing an ambitious clean-up operation in the center of the city and yesterday’s event was convened to present the results.
Anyone who has been downtown recently won’t fail to have noticed that the place is sparkling. Streets have been power-washed, often in the middle of the night, unsticking countless pieces of gum in the process, 8,500 lbs of trash have been removed, light poles, postal boxes and fire hydrants have been given a new lick of paint and fresh landscaping has appeared. Tree wells now overflow with blooms and 179 flower baskets hang from aloft. … Continue reading »
After hundreds of meetings, seven years of contentious debate, and the sting of a ballot referendum still fresh, the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday night adopted a new plan for its downtown.
The 8 to 1 vote, with Councilmember Kriss Worthington dissenting, may bring as many as seven tall buildings to the area bounded by Hearst Avenue to the north, Dwight Way to the south, MLK on the west, and Fulton on the east. It creates open space requirements, allows a faster approval process for buildings that are extra “green,” encourages LEED Gold construction, and creates a fund to build more affordable housing.
And, according to critics, it might create a cookie-cutter approach to building construction and a density that is out of character with Berkeley. … Continue reading »
After seven years of trying, including an approved plan that was then rescinded in 2009, a Downtown Area Plan for Berkeley (DAP) looks close to passage.
At the City Council meeting on Tuesday night, the plan was open for public comment. The council will hold a special meeting next at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday with the plan the only item of business, and, from the tenor of both public comment and councilmember remarks this week, it looks likely to pass.
The plan brought to the council (alert: the plan packet is a massive 1,204-page, 173MB PDF) follows the 64% approval by voters of the advisory Measure R in November, 2010. It includes up to seven tall buildings, open space and green building requirements, and a so-called “green pathway” to streamline the permit process (details are at the foot of this story). What the plan does not yet include are details on the Streets and Open Space Improvement Plan (SOSIP) and related impact and in-lieu fees that will be part of the DAP implementation. According to the presentation on Tuesday, those elements will come to council this spring. … Continue reading »
Berkeley voters overwhelmingly approved a new downtown plan Tuesday, paving the way for construction of five new tall buildings and a denser, transit-oriented community.
Voters passed the controversial Measure R with 64% of the vote.
“I was floored that 64% of the people voted the way they did,” Mayor Tom Bates said Wednesday. “It said to me that people understand global warming. If we want to reduce it we have to have people living downtown, near … Continue reading »
A couple of items distinguish Mayor Tom Bates’ office from the municipal run of the mill. Among the ceremonial tchotchkes exchanged with foreign mayors, there’s a large bottle of beer labeled AB 3601 and on the wall is a photo of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. The Zapata image might be more in keeping with a Berkeley dorm room than the mayor’s office, but it’s in the character of the city that a mayor that is seen as a centrist conciliator has a place in his heart for a revolutionary army leader. (The oddly named beer bottle is a tribute to Bates’ leading role in passing Assembly Bill 3601 in 1982 which spurred the brew pub movement first in California, then across the nation.)
It’s clear from talking to Bates that social innovations like AB 3601, or the solar financing scheme Berkeley FIRST, are what really get him excited. He peppers his conversation with references to his long years in the California state assembly, his wife Loni Hancock‘s current tenure in the state senate and — next year — the distinction of being Berkeley’s longest serving mayor.
Berkeleyside sat down with Mayor Bates and his chief of staff, Julie Sinai, last week. The conversation ranged over numerous topics, many suggested by Berkeleyside readers.
Reading some of the questions people would like you to answer, it seems some people attribute to the mayor the powers of a prime minister or a dictator. How would you characterize your powers as mayor?
There’s a nine-member council and I’m a member of the council. As a mayor there are certain innate powers that go with the mayor’s office. First of all the media. The mayor is seen as the principal political person for the city. Second of all, I’m blessed to have the opportunity of having a staff.
I was in the legislature for 20 years, so I have a pension from my time as a legislator. And as such when I came to the mayor’s office I’m not entitled to take a salary as the mayor. So I use that money to have a very talented staff. It keeps me more in touch with what’s going on. And knowledge and information equate to power.
When I came in, I tried to break up the notion of polarized sides that were divided around rent control and other issues. Instead, I thought we should try to deal with problems rather than ideologies. That’s worked pretty well. It’s polarized more in the last couple of years, with councillors [Kriss] Worthington and [Jesse] Arreguin sticking together, but generally we vote all sorts of different ways. It’s not like, “If Tom is for it, I’m against it.”
The other thing that has happened is that, coming from my position as a legislator, I’m used to putting things together. I passed 220 laws and I know how to work across various groupings to make things happen.
Are there things that frustrate you in your role?
The downturn in the economy has really frustrated me. We were doing so many great things and suddenly so many of the initiatives we were going pell mell on have had to be rethought and restructured.
The most important one for me in the one we call the 2020 plan, where we try to deal with the health disparities and the achievement gap. It’s meant that we won’t be able to put the resources and the people power [in place], particularly with our health department being cut back and our mental health department being cut back. We won’t have the resources to do what I’d hoped to do, which is see real results that occur during the time that I’m mayor. That’s been frustrating.
It’s also true that Berkeley is a difficult place in that you have people who are brilliant on every side of every issue. And there’s also a great feeling of entitlement. They’re used to getting what they want. It’s difficult to get people to realize that if you get 95% of what you’re after, you don’t have to fall on your sword for the last five per cent. … Continue reading »
The main issue on the agenda of tonight’s City Council meeting will be the fate of the Downtown Area Plan (DAP). Passed by the council last July in a 7-2 vote, the plan allowed for some taller buildings in the downtown core, but met resistance from both opponents of greater density and those advocating stronger provisions for affordable housing. Opponents gathered enough signatures to force the council to either rescind the plan or to place it on the June ballot … Continue reading »