Tag Archives: Downtown Berkeley

Brief power outages interrupt downtown Berkeley

BART rolled in an emergency generator to downtown Berkeley because of some brief power outages this morning. Photo: Siciliano Trevino
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PG&E fixed a power outage that affected around 1,900 customers around 2 a.m. — only to find that the fix malfunctioned and caused “momentaries” in downtown Berkeley around 10:45 a.m.

The first outage affected the 2300 and 2400 blocks of Telegraph Avenue, Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Addison Street and Bancroft Way and lasted from 2 a.m. to 3:45 a.m., according to Tamar Sarkissian, a PG&E spokeswoman. … Continue reading »

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Construction to begin on 6-story development

The planned apartment complex at 2017 Dwight Way. Photo: Christiani Ronaldo Architects
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Demolition has begun on the lot at the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Dwight Way, bringing down the building that was home to furniture store Modernaire, which has moved to a new location. In its place will be a new, 6-story mixed-use housing development, construction of which is set to begin in September.

Menlo Management Company is behind the development at 2107 Dwight Way, which will feature 99 rental units, 5,607 square feet of ground-floor retail space, and 45 parking spaces. A 2012 zoning board report says the housing units will be marketed primarily to students.

The project’s architect is Richard Christiani of San Francisco-based firm Christiani Johnson Architects. Christiani says he expects to complete construction in March 2016, 18 months after the scheduled start date. He said demolition at the site will be complete soon. … Continue reading »

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Council weighs in on new downtown Berkeley plaza plans

For the first time last week, the Berkeley City Council weighed in on improvements planned for the downtown Berkeley plaza and BART station. (Click the image for details.) Image: BART
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Berkeley’s main downtown plaza is set for some major changes in the next few years, and the Berkeley City Council had a chance to share ideas about the project last week.

The project is driven in large part by BART, which intends to renovate its station entrances, improve travel through the plaza, at Shattuck Avenue and Center Street, repave the area and make it easier to for visitors to navigate the area.

BART announced plans for the plaza late last year, and held public meetings in February and April to collect public feedback.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeleyside launches new talk series, The B-Side

Downtown Berkeley, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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This week, Berkeleyside, in collaboration with Impact Hub Berkeley, launched a new talk series designed to facilitate conversations about issues going on right here, right now in Berkeley.

The B-Side kicks off on the evening of July 15 at Impact Hub Berkeley with a talk titled “Downtown Development Initiative: Boon or Bane?” Jesse Arreguín, councilmember for District 4, will go head to head with  planner and smart growth advocate Eric Panzer in a discussion moderated by Berkeleyside co-founder Lance Knobel. Given all the plans for downtown Berkeley, and the vocal arguments for and against them, this promises to be a lively debate, and one participants will be encouraged to join. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley tall condo project gets first city reviews

Early drawings, which are set to change, of a 120-foot condo project in the works at Shattuck Avenue and Berkeley Way. Image: The Bay Architects
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Berkeley zoning board commissioners asked the architect for a 120-foot-tall building planned for Shattuck Avenue to make the project less suburban, craft a better street-level retail experience and take steps to retain existing local merchants on site during a review late last week.

The board expressed excitement about the project, but also offered extensive feedback, which was the purpose of the preview session June 26. No action was scheduled or taken.

The 12-story, mixed-use development at 1951-1975 Shattuck Ave. — called L’Argent — is set to include 78 apartments of 1,200 to 1,600 square feet on 10 floors, along with 10,000 square feet of retail on the bottom two stories. Currently, the project includes 91 parking spots and 30 bike storage spaces, according to city staff. (The project architect said there are more than 50 bicycle stalls planned.)

Read more about the details of L’Argent in past Berkeleyside coverage.

The project is in the very early stages of city review, and is likely to change in various ways over the next year as it seeks the necessary approvals and permits. … Continue reading »

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Downtown initiative on ballot; Berkeley city, schools may lose millions in fees

Downtown Berkeley, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The majority of the Berkeley City Council exerted its political muscle Tuesday night by voting for a ballot description for the downtown initiative drawn up by Mayor Tom Bates that is less flattering than the ones offered by the city attorney and Councilman Jesse Arreguín, the main proponent of the initiative.

Bates’ description of the initiative, which would require all buildings in the downtown area over 60 feet to meet high environmental standards that are now voluntary, uses terms like “impose significant new requirements,” and “restrict” and “reduce.” It also mentions a provision that would “reduce hours of operation for businesses selling or serving alcohol.” … Continue reading »

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New festival turns Center Street into ‘fun central’

Eats, Beats & Brews. Photo: Downtown Berkeley Association
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Every Sunday this June, Center Street in downtown Berkeley will become the site of the new Eats, Beats & Brews block party. The restaurant-laden part of the street between Shattuck and Oxford will be closed to cars between noon and 6 p.m. on June 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29. There will be live music, an outdoor beer garden, and a bounty of delicious food offerings.

Eats, Beats & Brews was given a test run last year for one day, but this year it will run for five Sundays in June. The event is part of Sunday Streets Berkeley, which is itself part of a national movement to close down streets for events that benefit the community.  … Continue reading »

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Salvaged trees to be used in Berkeley’s new art museum

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Seven Canary Island pine trees that were cut down in order to allow construction of the new Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive in downtown Berkeley were salvaged and will be used for several interior elements of the new museum, its director, Lawrence Rinder, revealed last week.

At a May 12 presentation made at Berkeley’s Skydeck, which afforded birds’-eye views of the site of the emerging museum on Center Street and Oxford, Rinder said Paul Discoe, a highly regarded wood craftsman known for designing Larry Ellison’s Japanese-style Woodside home, as well as Berkeley’s Ippuku restaurant, will use the pines, along with other reclaimed wood, to design elements such as the museum store, the admissions desk and seating. The trees used to be on Oxford Street, clustered near the corner of Addison.

“The wood is curing in a mill in Oakland right now,” Rinder said, adding that he was thrilled Discoe would be contributing the warm quality of his work to the museum.

Rinder brought the new museum into focus in other ways, with more details of its build-out and events leading up to its scheduled opening in January 2016. … Continue reading »

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2 citizen initiatives on course to make ballot in Berkeley

City Councilman Jesse Arreguín and his aide Anthony Sanchez turned in 3,900 signatures for Green Downtown and Public Commons. Photo: Tom Hunt
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At least two measures backed by Berkeley residents appear to have collected enough support to make them likely to be on the November 2014 ballot.

On Tuesday, a group backed by City Councilman Jesse Arreguín turned in more than 3,900 signatures to put a measure before voters that forces higher environmental standards on tall buildings in the downtown on the ballot. It would also create an overlay in the civic center district preventing certain buildings from being converted to commercial use. … Continue reading »

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Food, culture, campus: Downtown Berkeley’s best?

2012 Sunday Streets. Photo: Alan Tobey
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Downtown Berkeley has seen a major revival in recent years, with a profusion of new restaurants and extensive development planned. Not everyone is happy with the changes, and the future of downtown continues to be a controversial topic.

On a lark, Berkeleyside asked readers to share some of their favorite downtown spots on Facebook. And, given the penchant in this town to offer criticism or complaints as a means toward progress, it was a bit of a shock to see the immediate outpouring of excitement about places locals love downtown.

Within a few hours, we had nearly 50 comments. Ideas — totaling about 80 recommendations — continued to come in for days. By no means is this intended to be scientific or exhaustive, but our question certainly hit a nerve.

We’ve included all the suggestions, along with some highlights provided by readers, in the map below. Click the markers to learn more. … Continue reading »

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Would new green initiative kill 2 downtown high rises?

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Update, June 14: The initiative has qualified for the November 2014 ballot.

Original story: As volunteers man the entrances to Berkeley Bowl, wander the farmers markets, and stop people on the street to collect signatures for what is called the “Green Downtown & Public Commons Initiative,” the various sides disagree on the impact the initiative may have on development in Berkeley.

City Councilman Jesse Arreguín, who is a main backer of the drive, says the initiative is merely aimed at making major developers contribute more community benefits.

“This measure is not intended to stop development at all,” said Arreguín. “Its purpose is to codify some of the community benefits that were not only made in the Downtown Plan, but in Measure R.”

But many in the development community disagree. They believe the initiative, with its higher green standards and less flexible design guidelines, could stop two current projects — the proposed 180-foot hotel at the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street, and the 17-story residential apartment tower behind the Shattuck Cinemas building. At the very least, if the initiative passes, it will make it harder to build taller structures downtown. … Continue reading »

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Update: Rowdy high schoolers disrupt Berkeley downtown

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Update, 10:50 p.m. According to Lt. Dave Frankel, Berkeley Police Department had planned a large police presence this afternoon, following two previous Fridays with what he described as “rambunctious” behavior. The police had received reports that some confrontations were expected between Berkeley High and B-Tech students.

Today’s confrontations, however, spiraled into a series of fights and other disruptive behavior by students.

Two Berkeley High students were arrested and released to their parents, one for punching someone, the other for resisting arrest and disturbing the peace. A student from an Oakland charter school was also arrested for battery via pepper spray, Frankel said. He said Berkeley High staff had been helping police.

There was no information of property damage.

“This turned into groups of people wanting to fight each other,” Frankel said. It wasn’t, he explained, a riot where property damage was an aim. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Beware deceptive ‘Save Post Office’ ballot petition

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Don’t be deceived. Backers of a proposed measure for the Berkeley ballot in November are circulating voter-signature petitions under the guise of “saving the Post Office.” But the main thrust of the measure is to impose prohibitively restrictive fees and requirements on new projects in Berkeley’s core downtown. It would not guarantee that the Post Office would continue operating.

The result would be a devastating blow to our acclaimed Downtown Area Plan. This successful plan was formulated through extensive public … Continue reading »

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