Tag Archives: Downtown Berkeley

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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Nosh on the town: Great China in Berkeley

Great China in Berkeley, California. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Come along with Nosh as we explore the East Bay food scene in photographs. This week we focus on Great China in downtown Berkeley.

Long considered among the best Chinese restaurants in the area, Great China opened in its current location in December after a fire closed its doors at its prior downtown Berkeley home. It took nearly two years to plan and complete the new space on Bancroft Way, which is large and modern, and has roughly 50% more space than before. Even with the increased space, lines are a common sight. … Continue reading »

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Initiative aims to tighten ‘green’ parts of Downtown Plan

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Update: 6//14: The initiative has qualified for the November 2014 ballot.

Original story: City Councilman Jesse Arreguín, some members of the environmental community, the labor community, and preservationists are circulating a ballot initiative that would drastically overhaul elements of the Berkeley Downtown Area Plan endorsed by voters in 2010 and codified by the city council in 2012.

The initiative would restore the “green” in the “Green Vision” part of the plan, according to Arreguín.

It would essentially mandate that all buildings in the downtown core taller than 60 feet high follow the more stringent “Green Pathways” provision of the Downtown Area Plan, rather than making that an optional track for developers. … Continue reading »

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Mayor to focus on downtown, Telegraph, bike sharing, minimum wage, at State of the City address Wednesday

Mayor Tom Bates
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Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates will focus on four topics Wednesday in his State of the City address: the renaissance of downtown, proposals to raise the minimum wage, the bike sharing program that is slated to launch next year, and the revitalization plan for Telegraph Avenue.

The address, which is open to the public, takes place at the Berkeley City College auditorium Wednesday, April 30, from 5:30-7 p.m. (Reservations are requested. Scroll down for details.)  … Continue reading »

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3 teens arrested after Berkeley robbery, assault

Police arrested three teens at the downtown Berkeley BART station after a robbery and assault were reported Tuesday night. Photo: Mona Taleb-Agha
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Three teens with a gun assaulted and robbed a man in his 60s in downtown Berkeley on Tuesday night, but were arrested by police a short time later, authorities said Wednesday.

Tuesday just before 9:20 p.m., the man had been walking from his vehicle in the 1900 block of Addison Street, between Milvia Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, when three males approached him and demanded his wallet, said Officer Jennifer Coats, Berkeley Police spokeswoman.

One of the males was holding what appeared to be a gun. Coats said he struck the victim, which knocked the man to the ground. The teens then went through the man’s pockets, stealing cash and his keys. … Continue reading »

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See plans Tuesday for new downtown Berkeley hotel

A 16-story hotel has been proposed on Center Street at Shattuck Avenue.  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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Council to consider higher rates, evening hours for some Berkeley parking meters

Nearly full conditions on many commercial blocks in Berkeley during the evening hours may lead to metered parking until 8 p.m. (Click the map for the full presentation.) Image: City of Berkeley
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New metered parking rates and time limits, in effect in Berkeley since last fall in three of the city’s busiest commercial areas, have made it easier for many visitors to find daytime parking, according to new data released by city staff this week. But more changes are needed to meet the city’s goal of freeing up 1-2 spaces per block.

Proposed changes include slightly higher hourly rates in some areas, and a new pilot program to extend metered hours until 8 p.m. The Berkeley City Council would have to sign off on any new changes at a meeting currently scheduled for late April. … Continue reading »

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Missing at-risk woman reunited with family in Berkeley

Frances Green. Image: BPD
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A woman who went missing from the North Berkeley Senior Center on Friday, whose whereabouts were unknown for approximately seven hours, was reunited with her family Friday night after being spotted by an observant passer-by who was on her way home from work, authorities said.

Seventy-year-old Frances Green, who has Stage 4 Alzheimer’s, walked out of the senior center, at 1901 Hearst Ave., and disappeared just before 1 p.m. Friday.

Authorities were alerted to her absence and began keeping watch for her around Berkeley. Police printed fliers with information about Green and distributed them to nearby agencies, and informed community members in the area what to watch out for.

When Green remained missing despite initial efforts, the Berkeley Police Department also sent out an alert via the California Highway Patrol’s “Silver” network — similar to the Amber alert system but for seniors — and activated an alert network connected to the medical response system.

Some residents in the area were also notified by phone via the city’s emergency notification network, BENS. Several tips about possible sightings of Green came in to dispatchers, as well as calls from residents who were annoyed or confused about what the notification meant, and whether it was authentic.

In addition to those efforts, police called in four search dogs from the volunteer Alameda County Search and Rescue team to help try to find Green. Many of her family members responded to the area too, walking nearby Berkeley streets to try to find Green throughout the evening. … Continue reading »

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Update: Missing at-risk woman found in Berkeley

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Original story, 7:20 p.m. Police are asking for the community’s help to find an at-risk woman missing out of Berkeley since early afternoon Friday.

Frances Green, 70, has stage 4 Alzheimer’s and has been missing since about 12:55 p.m. when she walked out of the North Berkeley Senior Center.

Green is described as a light-complexioned Hispanic woman with a medium build, short gray cropped hair and brown eyes.

She was last seen wearing a camel-colored fleece jacket, black pants and navy blue shoes. She was not wearing her glasses, according to police. … Continue reading »

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‘Explosive’ downtown Berkeley housing boom under way

More than 1,400 units are in the works for downtown. Image: Downtown Berkeley Association
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More than 1,400 housing units are currently in development in downtown Berkeley, with demolition on one of the first in the pipeline scheduled to begin this week.

There are eight projects, including a hotel, planned in the downtown core, with two more planned just south, on Dwight Way, and another proposal on University Avenue just west of downtown that’s set to have its first public city review next week.

Demolition for The Durant, which has frontage on both Durant Avenue and Channing Way, was slated to begin Monday, Jan. 13, according to Downtown Berkeley Association CEO John Caner.

Caner said the project is expected to break ground for construction several weeks after that.

According to Downtown Berkeley Association calculations, the new projects will bring at least 1,414 new units and more than 88,000 square feet of new retail space to the downtown area. Not included in those calculations is the project just beginning city review, The Overture, which would bring an additional 44 units and 4,151 square feet of retail and restaurant space to the city’s core. … 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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