Tag Archives: Downtown Berkeley

Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

85C Bakery Cafe opening in San Diego
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LONGBRANCH SALOON San Pablo Avenue’s Longbranch is now open, according to tipster Amanda Fox. The restaurant, which took over the old Sea Salt location, describes itself as a “New American Restaurant/Gastro Pub.” It serves a range of comfort-food-style dishes and has an extensive list of beers, whiskeys and cocktails. Some dishes have a distinctly British-sounding spin, including potted pork trotter, the goat cheese and leek tart, and bangers and mash. Also on the menu: toasted farro and roasted cauliflower salad, pan-seared black cod and bone-in ribeye with béarnaise sauce. Longbranch is located at 2512 San Pablo Ave. (at Dwight Way) in Berkeley. Connect with the business on Facebook.Continue reading »

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Locals question Berkeley Plaza impact on theater, view

2211 Harold Way. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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Residents came out en masse Thursday night to testify before Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board about possible impacts related to a large mixed-use project planned downtown on Harold Way.

The Residences at Berkeley Plaza, at Harold and Kittredge Street, would rise 18 stories and is set to include a tower reaching, all told, nearly 200 feet. It is slated to feature about 300 units, which could either be apartments or condominiums, as well as a new six-theater cinema complex, more than 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and restaurant space, and a 171-unit underground parking structure. … Continue reading »

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New club aims to spice up downtown Berkeley nightlife

Screen shot 2014-11-06 at 2.58.52 PM
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Berkeley is saturated with places to eat and drink, but conspicuously missing is a place to dance afterwards. Soon that will change, when a nightclub called Berkeley Underground opens this weekend in the basement space at 2284 Shattuck Ave.

Owners Lisa Holt and David Shapiro, who also own BUILD Pizzeria upstairs, envision a multi-purpose venue that will one night host an internationally known electronic dance music act, and the next a private bar mitzvah party.

“This needed to be something that would marry the idea of being a fun club that people would go to in the evenings, as well as being a live performance venue for all those bands and music artists and comedians that don’t really have a place to go,” Holt said. “If you’re going to go to the [Berkeley] Rep, you need to fill 1,000 seats. And it’s just seats – there’s no milling around or dance floor.” … Continue reading »

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New hotel project is a go again after defeat of Measure R

The developer for a downtown Berkeley hotel proposal at Shattuck and Center said his plans are on hold pending November's election. Image: JRDV Urban International
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Now that Measure R, the initiative that aimed to impose stricter standards on tall buildings, has been defeated, the project to build a hotel downtown is back on track.

Developer Jim Didion of Center Street Partners LLC had stopped all design work on the hotel planned for the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street pending the outcome of Tuesday’s vote. Didion had contended that the requirements called for by Measure R would make the project financially infeasible.

But after Measure R was delivered a resounding defeat — No on R captured almost 74% of the vote, according to the most recent tally — work was set to resume, said Matthew Taecker, one of the hotel’s consultants. He said revisiting the design will be one of the team’s first tasks. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley temporarily blocks sale of main Post Office

Post Office by Darius Wekwerth
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The city of Berkeley has gotten a temporary restraining order blocking the sale of the city’s main post office on Allston Way.

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup ruled Nov. 5 that the U.S. Postal Service cannot sell the building before he conducts a full hearing in San Francisco on Dec. 10. USPS has committed to not closing a sale on the property before Dec. 17.

The city of Berkeley, along with its outside counsel Antonio Rossmann, filed for the TRO after learning online that the USPS was in contract to sell the building. Despite repeated requests and a Freedom of Information Act request, the USPS has refused to disclose the identity of the buyer.

On Nov. 5, Berkeleyside revealed that local developer Hudson McDonald was in negotiations to purchase the historic property. The firm would like the post office to remain in the front part of the building, according to Chris Hudson, a principal. The firm plans to put retail in the back portion of the property, which is currently sitting empty. … Continue reading »

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Exclusive: Local developer Hudson McDonald in contract to buy downtown Berkeley Post Office

Post Office by Darius Wekwerth
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After weeks of silence, Berkeley developer Hudson McDonald has acknowledged that it is the company that is negotiating with the USPS to buy the main Berkeley Post Office at 2000 Allston Way.

If successful, Hudson McDonald, which is best known for the construction of the Trader Joe’s building on University and MKL Jr. Way, said it plans to restore the 1914 building and develop the back for retail operations while offering the Post Office the opportunity of continuing to use the front lobby for postal services.

“There is a lot to be determined,” Chris Hudson, co-principal with Evan McDonald of the developer, said Tuesday. “But we want to preserve and restore the building, including retrofitting it, and we are having a conversation with the post office about them being tenant in the front part.” Currently about 80% of the building is empty.

Hudson said the Post Office had received several offers for the building but that Hudson McDonald was the only bidder in negotiation with USPS. … Continue reading »

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A Dora Pie opens in former Slow spot in Berkeley

The type of offering we can expect at A Dora Pie, which has just opened in downtown Berkeley. Photo: A Dora Pie
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The row of cafés and storefronts on the 1900 block of Berkeley’s University Avenue has seen a few abrupt closures this year, including the much-loved Slow restaurant and Bittersweet Café. But these have also opened up room for a new vision from Christopher Blue and his wife Jess Steeve, owners of the Chocolatier Blue shop in that same block, and its sister stores. Their new pie and coffee shop, A Dora Pie, had its soft opening on Sunday, Oct. 26, in the space that, until last month, housed Slow, run by chef Kyle Anderson.

Chris Blue was an investor in Anderson’s restaurant and a friend. Both chefs, who met at Charlie Trotter’s and are fellow Nebraskans, share a vision of serving accessible, honest gourmet food. When Anderson and his family decided to head back to their home state after four successful years with Slow, Blue didn’t want to replicate someone else’s inspiration. It was Anderson’s kitchen, and Slow wouldn’t be the same without him. … Continue reading »

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High-rise developer in Berkeley to use 100% union labor

2211 Harold Way. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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The developer behind a 180-foot-tall, mixed-use project planned in downtown Berkeley at 2211 Harold Way announced a commitment this week to use 100% union labor to construct The Residences at Berkeley Plaza.

According to Mark Rhoades of Rhoades Planning Group, a project representative, it’s the first agreement of its kind in Berkeley — between a private developer and labor — in at least 17 years.

Project developer HSR Berkeley Investments signed the labor agreement several weeks ago, after more than a year of discussion and negotiation, with the Building & Construction Trades Council of Alameda County. The group represents all 28 labor unions in the county.

The agreement will mean a livable wage, along with benefits including health care and sick leave, for an estimated 300 skilled workers. They will make, on average, $65 an hour, according to project documents. Construction for Berkeley Plaza is expected to take 2-3 years, and many of the workers hired must live in Berkeley or nearby, within the East Bay Green Corridor.

Rhoades said the agreement will cover everything “from digging the hole to doing the concrete and the steel, and including the first round of retail tenant work. It will result in a much better building, a much nicer streetscape, and a building whose systems work because of the union labor that will be putting it together.” … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Vote no on Measure R — it’s a misleading initiative

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Most of us want a new downtown; why are we asked over and over to keep the old one? Why do we have to fight another misleading initiative — Measure R?

After years of debate on a plan to revitalize our downtown, we had the first initiative campaign to stop it, and a subsequent election, in which the plan was approved overwhelmingly by voters in every precinct in Berkeley. It provided for a new green downtown with new housing for … Continue reading »

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After community tip, police arrest SF woman tied to violent Berkeley assault

Alleged assailant. Image still: Berkeley Police
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A community member who saw a video of a violent, unprovoked assault in Berkeley in September helped tip off authorities to the assailant’s identity, which led to her arrest, police said Tuesday.

Last week, the Berkeley Police Department asked for the community’s help to find a woman with an overloaded shopping cart who had — for no apparent reason — forcefully shoved an 85-year-old pedestrian to the ground as she walked in downtown Berkeley with a relative on Sept. 23. The woman suffered serious injuries and was taken to the hospital as a result.

As part of its outreach, the department released a security video showing the assault. (A Berkeleyside post of that video has been viewed nearly 4,500 times on YouTube. Other media sources also made it available.)  … Continue reading »

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Video: Police ask for help after random violent assault of 85-year-old in downtown Berkeley

Police are looking for a woman who shoved an 85-year-old to the ground and rushed off. Image: BPD
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Update, Oct. 14: Read Berkeleyside’s exclusive story about the alleged assailant’s arrest.

Original story, Oct. 7: Authorities are looking for a woman they say turned suddenly, without provocation, and violently shoved an 85-year-old pedestrian to the ground as she walked in downtown Berkeley in September.

The assault caused serious injuries, and the victim required treatment at the hospital. Authorities have released a video (below) that shows what took place.

According to police, the 85-year-old Oakland woman was walking with a relative on Shattuck Avenue near Allston Way on Sept. 23 just after 9:30 p.m. when a woman who had passed them rushed back at them, forcefully pushed the Oakland woman to the ground, and immediately walked away. … Continue reading »

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Government

Streamlined housing crisis center slated for Berkeley

Homeless services in Berkeley. Image: City of Berkeley
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A new one-stop homelessness services shop is in the works in Berkeley.

Announced Tuesday night, the city is changing the way it funds programs offered in town, to prioritize the people with the highest needs, in line with a federal mandate to streamline services into a coordinated system.

The city is looking to create a central office where anyone seeking services will begin the process. Currently, there are too many entry points, as well as duplicative services and a mis-match between those who receive the highest level of assistance and those who needs it most, staff said Tuesday at a work session with the Berkeley City Council.

The city spends about $3 million a year on a range of programs. That is not set to change. But how the money is divvied up, and exactly which types of services receive money, will be different. Unlike the current system, programs will have to fit into set categories to qualify for city support. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Ideas Festival is just 6 weeks away; marriage equality pioneers Sandy Stier and Kris Perry will be there

Sandy Stier and Kris Perry. Photo: William Newton
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This year’s Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas 2014 is just six weeks away.

Happening in downtown Berkeley on Friday Oct. 24 and Saturday Oct. 25, the Bay Area’s only ideas festival promises to be one of the most memorable events of the fall. 

Buy your tickets now and take advantage of the special early bird rate!

Berkeleyside created and produces Uncharted, and we have been working furiously behind the scenes to make the festival an event you will love. We’ve signed some wonderful new speakers for you to meet, including:

  • Brian Christian, author of The Most Human Human
  • Steve Coll, Dean, Columbia Journalism School
  • Sandy Stier and Kris Perry, marriage equality pioneers
  • Dale Dougherty, Founder, Maker Media
  • Andrés Roemer, Consul General of Mexico, San Francisco

See the full speaker listContinue reading »

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