Tag Archives: Downtown Berkeley

Scoop: Blue Bottle Coffee coming to Berkeley

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Blue Bottle Coffee is set to open its first Berkeley outpost in the street-level retail space of co-working offices WeWork at 2011 Shattuck Ave. (at University).

The news was confirmed by one of the building’s owners, Jordan Caspari of Soma Capital Partners.

Caspari said Blue Bottle would be going into the corner space, and added he was “very excited” about the opening next year.

A high-end ramen restaurant is expected to sign the lease for the other part of the retail space next week, Caspari said. Nosh will have details as soon as it is a done deal.

“We think the two tenants will have great synergies with WeWork,” Caspari said. … Continue reading »

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Downtown Berkeley launches new marketing campaign

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Downtown Berkeley Association is hanging 85 colorful double banners from downtown Berkeley’s lampposts to launch a new branding campaign, “Meet Me Downtown.” The campaign is being led by the DBA with five partners, the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the new UC Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Freight & Salvage and Visit Berkeley.

“This marks the beginning of the revitalization of the downtown that we’ve been building towards over the last few years,” said John Caner, CEO of the DBA. “The museum is the biggest thing that has happened downtown since the opening of BART, and the UC Theatre is a major venue. It’s the beginning of a fundamental shift.”  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley approves construction of Harold Way high-rise

The zoning board voted to certify the Harold Way EIR on Thursday night. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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After three years and 37 public meetings, the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday night approved plans to build an 18-story, 302-unit mixed-use complex in Berkeley’s downtown.

The vote, which followed five hours of public testimony, requires the developer, HSR Berkeley Investments, to pay $4.5 million into the city’s Housing Trust Fund, on top of the $6 million it is already obligated to pay. That $10.5 million can be leveraged with state and federal funds to construct about 105 units of affordable housing, according to city staff. The developer will also have to pay $1 million into an arts fund, with $250,000 of that going soon to Habitot Children’s Museum to help it relocate, among other fees.

                           Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of 2211 Harold Way.

“I think it’s a major improvement for our city,” Mayor Tom Bates said after the meeting about the project slated for 2211 Harold Way. “It sends a sign we’re serious about climate change. The building is LEED Gold. It’s a block from BART. It’s going to contribute seriously to the city’s coffers. It’s a great win-win.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Homeless man arrested after Berkeley bank robbery

Union Bank was robbed Tuesday. Image: Google Maps
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Berkeley police officers recovered the cash after arresting a homeless man they said was responsible for robbing a bank late Tuesday morning.

According to police, Barrett Brown was not armed but instead used a note to demand money from a teller at the downtown Berkeley Union Bank located at 2333 Shattuck Ave., at Durant Avenue.

Police described Brown, who is 35, as transient.

Bank staff called in the robbery report to police dispatchers at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, said Lt. Jennifer Louis, dayshift watch commander. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley City Council to consider Harold Way appeals

2211 Harold Way is one of several tall building proposals in the pipeline that must offer "significant community benefits" under the Downtown Area Plan. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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There have been more than 35 public hearings over the 180-foot-high 302-unit building proposed for 2211 Harold Way and at most of those meetings a dedicated group of people has objected to its construction.

Tonight may be their last chance – at least before the issue goes to court – to thwart what they consider an oversized building for the wealthy that doesn’t fit architecturally into the neighborhood.

The Berkeley City Council is holding a special meeting at Longfellow Middle School at 1500 Derby St. 5:30 p.m. to consider eight appeals filed over the approvals and permits issued by the Zoning Adjustments Board and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. That is one less appeal than expected; on Monday night, the Berkeley Unified School District Board voted to drop its appeal, according to president Judy Appel. BUSD and the building’s developer, HSR Berkeley Investments, worked out an agreement in recent days that will mitigate the school district’s concerns about the impact of construction on Berkeley High, which is about a half a block away. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley business tries novel way to stop public urination

Pee repellent wall. Photo- Ethan Cheng
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An employee at a downtown Berkeley business was getting tired of people using an alleyway on Shattuck Avenue as a toilet and decided to do something about it.

Ethan Cheng, the facilities manager at North Berkeley Properties, said the recessed space between Arinell Pizza at 2119 Shattuck and Bank of America at 2129 has had problems with graffiti and public urination for as long as he can remember, even though it is checked and cleaned up regularly by the downtown Berkeley ambassadors.

“I never could figure out how to fix the issue until I read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about how the San Francisco Public Works Department was trying to combat a similar issue on its public walls,” Cheng told Berkeleyside. … Continue reading »

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Construction to begin on 8-story building in downtown

Berkeley Way West as seen from Shattuck Avenue. Photo: WRNS Studio/UC Berkeley
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By Yasmin Anwar/Berkeley News

Construction is scheduled to begin this month on an 8-story complex in downtown Berkeley to house the campus’ Graduate School of Education, School of Public Health and the Department of Psychology.

The 320,000-square-foot building at Berkeley Way and Shattuck Avenue will replace Tolman Hall, built in 1965, which has been deemed seismically unsafe and will be demolished once the new building opens in fall 2017. Tolman Hall currently houses the Graduate School of Education in one wing, and the psychology department in the other. The School of Public Health is headquartered in University Hall.

Read more on the Berkeley Way West project on Berkeleyside.

Dubbed Berkeley Way West, the project will include more than 7,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, and classrooms, offices, open workstations and collaborative space on the floors above. A courtyard on the east side of the building will connect to a pedestrian walkway at the adjacent Energy Biosciences Building. The total cost for the project is estimated to be around $150 million, and will be paid for with private and state funding. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council enacts street behavior regulations

Protesters fighting new ordinances related to street behavior marched to Tuesday night's council meeting and rallied. Photo: Ted Friedman
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Tuesday night’s council meeting ended abruptly with a split vote to adopt new laws proponents say will help clean up Berkeley streets and provide storage and improved restroom facilities for the homeless.

Opponents of the laws say they will criminalize the homeless and have been protesting their adoption after a preliminary vote in November. About 30 people marched from Old City Hall to Tuesday’s council meeting at Longfellow Middle School to oppose the laws. They first rallied at Liberty City, an encampment that has drawn dozens to Old City Hall in recent weeks to protest the new measures.

Three council members did not respond when asked to vote, in an apparent act of protest, amidst disruptions from the crowd and several attempts by two officials to change the order of the meeting agenda as the night wore on.

Read more coverage of homelessness in Berkeley.

Vice Mayor Linda Maio ran the meeting because Mayor Tom Bates could only attend by telephone due to a recent injury. Maio said the new laws will increase access to public restrooms and create new secured storage facilities for the homeless. She said warnings will be issued prior to any tickets, and that none of the rules related to the storage of personal items in public space will go into effect until the city has storage units to offer.

“They can still sit and they can still sleep,” she said. About the new rules, she added, “There has been so much misinformation about what they are.”Continue reading »

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Fire destroys downtown Berkeley restaurant

Firefighters fight a fire at the Mandarin Garden restaurant, in Berkeley, on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. Photo: David Yee
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UPDATE, Dec. 22: As of Dec. 22, the Berkeley Fire Department had not concluded its investigation into the Mandarin Garden fire. The property has been released back into the hands of its owners, but the restaurant was completely destroyed, and the two neighboring businesses, Patelco Credit Union and Venus Café, remain closed due to damage caused when fighting the fire.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Berkeley Fire Department responded to two fires at the Mandarin Garden restaurant at 2025 Shattuck Ave. (at University) Friday morning.

The second, two-alarm fire, which gutted the restaurant, was significant enough to require evacuations from nearby properties, but was mostly under control around 7:30 a.m.

According to Berkeley Fire Battalion Chief Brian Harryman, the second fire appears to have started in a different area of the building from the first one which BFD had determined they had extinguished.

Both the Patelco Credit Union and shuttered Ichiban restaurant that are on either side of Mandarin Garden suffered serious damage. A new restaurant called Venus Café, that was due to open in about a week in the Ichiban location, will now take months to repair, according to its co-owner, Peter Kwong. … Continue reading »

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Sweetgreen: Bringing salads to downtown Berkeley

Apple, pear and cheddar salad from Sweetgreen. Photo: Sweetgreen
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It may no longer serve hamburgers, but the Oscar’s building on Berkeley’s Shattuck Avenue will retain its retro image when it opens in spring 2016. That’s because the new tenant, Washington D.C.-based Sweetgreen, is keeping the building’s signature arches, as well as its distinctive signage, even though it is transforming the space from a burger joint to a healthy, vegetable-focused fast-casual restaurant.

“We want to keep Oscar’s history alive,” Sweetgreen co-founder Nicolas Jammet told Nosh in a sit-down interview Tuesday. “It was an incredible business to last for over 60 years.”

But, Jammet said, Oscar’s represented the tail-end of a different era of dining. “It’s exciting to see a new chapter for the space.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley ZAB round-up: The Roost approved on Blake, Center Street hotel previewed, Kennedy project put off

"The Roost," looking east toward Shattuck Avenue, at 2029-2035 Blake St. Image: Devi Dutta Architecture
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Thursday night the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board approved a 5-story mixed-use project near downtown, previewed updated plans for a hotel on Center Street and postponed a decision related to a proposed residential hotel on Shattuck Avenue that the developer would like to convert to studio apartments.

“The Roost,” with parklet and dog park, approved on Blake near Shattuck

The board was unanimous in its vote to approve “The Roost,” an 82-unit project at 2029-2035 Blake St., just west of Shattuck. The 5-story building is also set to include two live-work units, about 1,900 square feet of ground-floor retail, 68 parking spaces in a basement-level garage and 67 bike parking spots. Two of the vehicle spaces will be dedicated car-share spots, and there will be 16 EV-ready parking stalls provided.

Commissioner Sophie Hahn asked the developer, represented by Mark Rhoades of the Rhoades Planning Group, to commit to include four units of below-market-rate housing on site, with four additional units either to be built on the property or paid for through fees into the city’s Housing Trust Fund. After conferring briefly with his client, Rhoades agreed to the request. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley imposes new laws on homeless behavior

Homeless advocates held a rally outside city council chambers on Tuesday night to call attention to proposed laws they said would criminalize the homeless. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The Berkeley City Council passed a series of measures early Wednesday morning to address issues raised by the behavior of some members of the homeless population, including a new rule that will limit the amount of space on which people can spread their stuff on the sidewalk.

Under the new law — which won’t go into effect immediately — people on sidewalks or plazas will have to confine their belongings to a 2-by-2-foot area between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. This does not include cushions or dogs.

To make this work, council pledged to provide convenient and secure storage bins in which homeless people can store their possessions. The new rules will kick in only after the city installs the bins. Berkeley has not yet determined where they might go and how many there will be, although there will be 50 to 100 to start. … Continue reading »

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Council battle brews over street behavior, homelessness

Mike Lee, right, a homeless activist, said during a demonstration Monday that he won't be pushed out of Berkeley on charges that make no sense. At left, Councilman Jesse Arreguin,  and Michael Diehl, of B.O.S.S. center, another advocate for the homeless. Photo: Ted Friedman
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Tuesday night, advocates for the homeless are set to duke it out with supporters of more stringent standards for behavior on Berkeley sidewalks over three items on the City Council agenda related to those living on the streets.

The item that has generated the most controversy, from Council members Linda Maio, Laurie Capitelli, Lori Droste and Mayor Tom Bates, prohibits going to the bathroom in public; limits the use of public space for the storage of personal items; and outlaws lying down inside planter beds or on planter walls.

Read more coverage of homelessness in Berkeley.

Advocates for the homeless have said the proposal will criminalize those on the street, who have few alternatives to their current behavior and need additional services, as well as assistance finding affordable housing. Advocates have been demonstrating since 6 a.m. Monday with a prayer circle, fasting and a “sleep out” in solidarity with the homeless Monday night. A rally and speak out is also planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday before the 7 p.m. council meeting at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Proponents of Item 28, to “Improve Conditions On Our Community Sidewalks,” say the city must act now to make the streets safer for everyone. The item does not outlaw sitting on the sidewalk during the day or sleeping on the sidewalk at night. Its supporters say the item creates a “few basic rules to set the standard for acceptable behavior.”

The item would direct the city to fund the purchase of 50-100 secure storage bins for the homeless, provide additional bathrooms on Telegraph Avenue and downtown — possibly in conjunction with BART, and provide mobile showers for public use. The bathrooms would be accessible 24/7. The new services are estimated to cost at least $300,000 annually. … Continue reading »

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