Tag Archives: Downtown Berkeley

Thursday: Groundbreaking for new Dwight Way project

From left: Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, architect Richard Christiani, Dan Deibel, president of Olympic Residential Group, and Downtown Berkeley Association CEO John Caner. Photo: Ted Friedman
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A 99-unit, 6-story building planned in downtown Berkeley is kicking off construction in earnest with a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday afternoon.

Demolition began last summer at 2121 Dwight Way, at Shattuck Avenue. Since then, the project has changed hands and promises a wide range of amenities to renters, such as high-quality kitchens, pet-friendly features, shuffleboard and “the latest Wi-Fi technology” in a communal lounge. There’s also 5,100 square feet of ground floor retail space “suited for a café and neighborhood-serving specialties.”

San Carlos-based Olympic Residential Group bought the property — where furniture shop Modernaire used to be located — in February. (Modernaire moved to 1621 San Pablo Ave.) The project is scheduled to be complete by summer 2016.

Read more about real estate in Berkeley.

Olympic described the units as “Class-A luxury apartment homes,” and said in a statement released Wednesday the project, set to reach 63 feet in height, is aimed at “an eclectic mix of young professionals attracted to the transit-oriented location, empty nesters, University faculty, and UC Berkeley students looking for a high quality housing option near the campus.”  … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: In Berkeley, how much tolerance is too much?

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In preparation for relocating to Berkeley five years ago, I arranged to pick up some moving boxes. It turns out, the couple giving me the boxes had just moved from Berkeley. When I asked why they left, they shared some nervous laughter and said something about getting out of there as quickly as they could. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to flee from Berkeley, a small city known for tolerance, fruit trees, beautiful weather, and a world-class university … Continue reading »

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Bites: Sprouts to Oakland, water restrictions, more

Sprouts Market. Photo: Sprouts
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Openings, closings…

SPROUTS MARKET HEADED TO OAKLAND While protests continue over a potential Sprouts Farmers Market in University Village in Albany (near the contested Gill Tract research field), the grocery store has quietly revealed plans for a location at 3001 Broadway, at the bottom of Pill Hill, in Oakland. Sprouts’ ABC license is pending, and its retail brokerage firm, Lockehouse, has put together a development plan for the space. The development looks like it will also include additional retail tenants. The proposal emphasizes the higher incomes of potential customers living in the Oakland Hills and Lakeshore neighborhoods, as well as the convenience to both the Alta Bates and Kaiser buildings. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as the project develops. Oakland’s Sprouts Farmers Market will be at 3001 Broadway (at 30th Street), Oakland.Continue reading »

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Work begins to transform UC Theatre into music venue

City officials, downtown business owners and others gathered with David Mayeri Wednesday for the groundbreaking for the UC Theater. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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By Frances Dinkelspiel and Tracey Taylor

The long-shuttered UC Theatre on University Avenue was buzzing again Wednesday as city officials and supporters gathered for an official groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of the renovation of the former movie palace.

While David Mayeri, president of the Berkeley Music Group and the driver of the project, and others posed with gold shovels in front of the theater, the transformation of the 1917 building at 2036 University Ave. began in earnest inside with workers beginning to tear into the building’s floor with jackhammers.

Rehabilitating the theater is expected to cost $5.5 million — with a capital campaign still seeking $2 million worth of support. Mayeri and the five-strong board hope to put on their first show in the building this fall. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council votes to curb impacts of homelessness

Shattuck Avenue is one area of Berkeley where the homeless most commonly congregate (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night to direct staff to flesh out and clarify laws designed to clean up downtown by addressing problematic behavior linked to the city’s homeless population.

The 6-3 vote to approve a proposal by Councilwoman Linda Maio followed more than an hour of public testimony mostly dominated by detractors who said the new laws will only serve to criminalize the homeless, while failing to address the root causes of the issue.

A handful of local business representatives and members of the real estate community pleaded with council to approve Maio’s proposal, saying the situation downtown has become dire. Real estate reps said businesses do not want to locate downtown due to the sometimes violent and rowdy street scene. Members of the business community said customers and clients have experienced fear and intimidation as a result of homeless groups who congregate on Berkeley streets, particularly on Shattuck Avenue in downtown Berkeley. Many said the situation has declined in recent years and that something needed to be done to make downtown safe and comfortable for everyone.

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley.

Dozens of advocates, homeless individuals and academics who study laws affecting the poor told council that the proposal was misguided, would lead to selective enforcement, and would make it harder for people who are homeless to access needed services and programs that might help them get off the streets. Nearly 80 people addressed council Tuesday night, and most said they were against the recommendation. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley to grapple again with homeless on sidewalks

On most days, homeless youths line up on Shattuck Avenue in front of the Shattuck Cinemas. The City Council will consider a new set of laws affecting the homeless on Tuesday night. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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A proposal coming before the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday to examine new laws for the homeless is being called Measure S 2.0, and it is shaping up politically to be a repeat of the bruising sit-lie ordinance that was on the 2012 ballot.

Council members Linda Maio and Jesse Arreguín want to ask the city manager to examine a raft of laws that might ameliorate the behavior of the growing groups of homeless youth that frequent Shattuck Avenue in downtown Berkeley. Only Arreguín has now withdrawn his support for the measure.

Read Berkeleyside’s March 18 update about the outcome of the vote.

“I definitely recognize there are some challenges on our streets in downtown Berkeley and Telegraph Avenue,” said Arreguín. “I originally thought that adopting laws and increasing enforcement was going to be the best approach, but in thinking more about it I really think without talking about [adding] services and the outreach … we are not going to make a meaningful difference.” … Continue reading »

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TargetExpress opens in downtown Berkeley with very local customers in mind

Target Express downtown Berkeley. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Veteran Berkeley dwellers are wont to say that there is nowhere to buy underwear downtown. It’s a complaint that has historically underscored the lack of broad-based retail options in the heart of the city. With the opening of TargetExpress at the corner of  Shattuck and Allston Way today, that is less of a problem, however. One aisle of the 12,000-square-foot store — only the third TargetExpress in the country — offers a selection of men’s briefs and women’s undergarments.

With nearby Cal students in mind, the store also stocks hangers, ironing boards and sheets in its Home section, printer cartridges and legal pads in its Stationery aisle, ready-made margaritas and frozen pizza in the Food section, and — in its gleaming Tech section — wireless routers, speakers and iPads. There is even a small selection of Cal hats and T-shirts for sale.

This should be welcome news for UC Berkeley students, 86.9% of whom, in a 2011 study, expressed a desire for an “all-purpose” store that sold general items — like a Target. … Continue reading »

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Felon to face 2012 Berkeley robbery, carjacking charges

Image: Google maps
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A 37-year-old Concord man is set to face charges after a 2012 robbery series in Berkeley that targeted the Magic Fingers massage parlor on University Avenue, which has since closed.

Samay Pomsouvanh was charged in the case in 2012, but he was not tried in the matter because he was sent to prison in connection with an armed robbery at the home of a prostitute in San Mateo.

Pomsouvanh was released from prison into the custody of the Alameda County sheriff’s department in early February to face the pending charges against him for the 2012 incidents in Berkeley.

According to court documents, Pomsouvanh and four associates — Quoc Bui, Eddie Chiwei Cheung, Aaron Boungnarith and Whitney Sullivan — were tied to robberies in 2012 at Magic Fingers, at 2047 University Ave. (west of Shattuck Avenue), on June 18, June 23, July 1 and July 6, along with another incident of robbery and carjacking June 27. The suspects reportedly posed as law enforcement officials, and tied up their victims with zip ties or duct tape during the robberies. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Fieldwork Brewing opens in Berkeley, more

Fieldwork Brewing Company menu. Photo: Fieldwork Brewing's Facebook
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Openings, closings…

FIELDWORK BREWING OPENS The newest West Berkeley brewery is up and running after previewing its beers during SF Beer Week. Fieldwork Brewing Company‘s taproom, at Sixth and Harrison streets, offers guests a rotating selection of seasonal and limited release brews in addition to its flagship offerings. Beers on tap right now include Fieldwork’s Double IPA, Rye Pale Ale, Burning Daylight IPA, Morning Time Breakfast Stout, and Hella Revolutionary, a collaboration with Altamont Beer Works in Livermore. On the food menu are British-style meat, vegetable and vegan pies (“pasties”) made by Oakland’s The Pie Shop. Fieldwork plans to host beer-pairing dinners in the future, as well as pairing seminars and scheduled tours. It is also selling beer to-go in 32- and 64-ounce refillable Fieldwork growlers. Leading the beer program is Alex Tweet, formerly of Modern Times Beer and Ballast Point Brewing, both in San Diego. Fieldwork Brewing is at 1160 Sixth St. (at Harrison Street), Berkeley. Connect with the brewery on Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading »

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Opening today: Tupper & Reed, a classic cocktail bar

Tupper & Reed opens tonight in Downtown Berkeley. Photo: Brian Sheehy
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The East Bay is becoming quite the drinking destination. With West Berkeley’s booming craft beer scene and Uptown Oakland’s growing nightlife scene, it feels like we are quickly catching up with San Francisco. More proof if it were needed: downtown Berkeley is now home to Tupper & Reed, the latest project from SF’s Future Bars team.

The long-awaited bar opens its doors tonight at 6 p.m. at 2271 Shattuck Ave. (at Bancroft). Tupper & Reed is modeled on the Future Bars‘ SF flagship, Bourbon & Branch, a speakeasy-style bar. It will boast a menu of 70 cocktails and hundreds of spirits, said co-owner Brian Sheehy, featuring classic drinks, twists on those classics and a number of cocktails created exclusively for the bar. In addition, Sheehy said, it will serve a small selection of beer and wine for “people who insist on not drinking cocktails.” … Continue reading »

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Thalassa space becoming music venue, beer garden

Site of new music venue and beer garden. Photo: Kate Williams
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The former Thalassa space in downtown Berkeley is not going to sit empty for long. The popular pool hall shut down last fall after losing its lease on the building, moved up the hill to Telegraph and Durant, and re-opened as Berkeley Public.

Now the enormous former pool hall, which is located at 2367 Shattuck Ave. between Channing and Durant, is being reconfigured as a craft beer garden and live music venue, says Alex Popov, who is spearheading the effort. Popov is a familiar name in the Berkeley food and drink scene; he founded Smart Alec’s in 1996 and Pappy’s Grill in 2012, and is running Liquid Entertainment, the company in charge of the music venue project.

The entirety of the venue, whose name has not been finalized, is huge — 12,000 square feet in total — and will be able to host special food and drink events in addition to concerts. Popov says that they will make use of the two large store-front entrances, one on Shattuck and one on Durant, which allow the venue to have a separate entrance for both the music and restaurant areas. … Continue reading »

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Legal battles over Berkeley’s main Post Office continue

Tony Rossmann, Brian Turner, and City of Berkeley employee Moni Law (from left to right) answer questions. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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The city of Berkeley is pushing forward with a lawsuit to stop the sale of the downtown Berkeley Post Office, despite the U.S. Postal Service’s claim that it is unnecessary as there is no imminent plan to sell the building, an attorney working for Berkeley told a crowd at a community meeting Thursday.

After a deal between the USPS and local developer Hudson McDonald fell through in early December, and the building at 2000 Allston Way was taken off the market, the postal service filed a motion Jan. 22 to dismiss the lawsuits against it, saying they are moot without a prospective buyer interested in the building. Whether the Berkeley Post Office is placed back on the market is under consideration, according to USPS spokesperson Augustine Ruiz.

Read more about the Berkeley Post Office.

The city and the privately funded nonprofit National Trust for Historical Preservation, which filed separate lawsuits in November, argue that their original complaints remain unaddressed by the USPS, and the case needs to move forward to prevent repeated violations in the future. … Continue reading »

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Bites: PieTisserie, Kitchener Snack Bar, more

Jaynelle St. John (center) held a grand opening for her pie shop, PieTisserie, on Valentine's Day. Photo: PieTisserie
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Openings, closings…

PIETISSERIE SHOP HOLDS GRAND OPENING Oakland pie maven Jaynelle St. John held a grand opening celebration for her standalone shop in the Grand Lake district this past Saturday. PieTisserie specializes in unique pies, such as mojito custard and chocolate cream pretzel. St. John has been selling her pies for the last five years, but has moved her operation around Oakland; most recently she sold pies out of Nido, near Jack London Square, and she has also made appearances at Swan’s Marketplace in Old Oakland, and Kitchenette in San Francisco. Since parting with Nido in August 2013, St. John has been working on opening her retail space while selling her pies through her website and Munchery. PieTisserie, complete with its pie window, is at 1605 2nd Ave. (at Foothill Boulevard), Oakland. Connect with the bakery on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.Continue reading »

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