Tag Archives: Lowney Architecture

Zoning board denies Berkeley micro-unit proposal

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Berkeley zoning board members voted 6-3 last week to reject an application from a San Francisco-based development firm that hopes to build the city’s first micro-unit housing project.

In September, many zoning board commissioners told Axis Development Group that the proposal, at 2701 Shattuck Ave., was too large and too dense for the neighborhood. They asked Axis to consider a four-story alternative, and to make more room on the northeast corner of the site, which is close to an adjacent single-family home. City staff had earlier suggested the removal of up to 12 units from the project.

Thursday night, Axis presented its latest version of the five-story project, currently set to include 67 units that range in size from 269 to 344 square feet, as well as a roughly 2,000-square-foot full service restaurant with valet parking, and a small parking garage. (Read more about the latest plans here.) Following the September zoning board meeting, Axis removed three units from the project’s fifth story. Company representatives said they felt this change addressed the board’s concerns.

Commissioners who voted against the project Thursday criticized Axis for failing to take their feedback in September seriously.

“I’m astonished at how fully the applicant has ignored our very clear suggestions. Very clear,” Commissioner Shoshana O’Keefe said. “From staff, from us. I was at the last meeting, I know what was said. I can’t believe you would come up here with a straight face and say you were confused as to what we were asking for.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley staff recommend rejection of micro-unit plans

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A controversial micro-unit mixed-used proposal aimed for a quiet stretch of Shattuck Avenue, south of downtown, is still too big, say Berkeley city staff, who advised zoning board members to deny the application later this week.

The project, at 2701 Shattuck, at Derby, is scheduled for its third review by the city Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday. The project has received extensive feedback from city commissioners, who asked developers to shrink the project in September, citing concerns about its compatibility with the nearby residential neighborhood. … Continue reading »

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Zoning board asks micro-unit developer to shrink proposal

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Berkeley zoning board members voted Thursday night to ask developers to reduce the size of a proposed micro-unit project on Shattuck Avenue by either taking units off the upper stories or removing the top story altogether.

The lengthy Zoning Adjustments Board meeting was the panel’s first chance to vote on the project. Throughout the night, the board seemed poised to approve the project as proposed, deny the project altogether or ask for significant changes before moving forward.

At the end of a nearly three-hour discussion, which included comments from more than 20 members of the public, the board voted to affirm the staff recommendation to ask San Francisco-based Axis Development Group to change its designs to make the building fit in better with the neighborhood. Staff had recommended some type of increased “setbacks” — such as a more gradual increase from story to story up to the building’s full height — on the five-story proposal’s upper floors to increase the space between the structure and a nearby single-family home to the east. The zoning board asked mixed-use developer Axis to consider either that approach or a possible reduction to four stories. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley neighbors fight micro-unit proposal on Shattuck

Proposed micro-unit development at 2701 Shattuck Ave., at Derby Street, in Berkeley. Image: Lowney Architecture
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A 70-unit five-story building proposed at Shattuck Avenue and Derby Street faced steep neighborhood opposition at a recent zoning board meeting in Berkeley.

The 60-foot-tall proposal, set to include 35 garage parking spaces, 81 bike spots and a 2,000-square-foot restaurant, has been designed by Lowney Architecture, and comes to the city from Axis Development Group in San Francisco. The project has been scheduled before the city’s Design Review Committee six times since December. Units as currently designed range from 307 to 344 square feet. The project would result in a payment of $1.4 million into the city’s affordable housing fund.

Proponents say these “micro-units” — which have sparked fierce debate in San Francisco — are the way of the future, offering a more viable financial alternative to renters who otherwise would not be able to afford their own apartments. An attorney for the project, Rena Rickles, said at the Aug. 8 Zoning Adjustments Board meeting that micro-units “have been lauded in every design review magazine,” adding that the Berkeley proposal would offer even more amenities than a similarly high-end project, 38 Harriet, in San Francisco (built by Berkeley-based developer Panoramic Interests): “It meets the highest standards for this kind of housing in this area.” Rickles also noted that it would bring some much-needed vibrancy to the area.

Fifteen neighbors who live near the proposal, and spoke before the zoning board, were unconvinced. … Continue reading »

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Revamped Safeway opens in heart of Gourmet Ghetto

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Today sees the re-opening, after nearly one year of construction work, of the Safeway on Shattuck Avenue, right in the heart of Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto.

For one loyal customer, the unveiling of what the grocery chain refers to as one of its “lifestyle” stores is, as she put it, “mind boggling.” When Claire Alvarez moved to Henry Street in 1962, the spot now occupied by Safeway was a vacant lot. Alvarez watched the original store go up, and was first in the door when it opened in 1965. Yesterday, she was designated the new store’s official first customer and was asked to help cut the ceremonial ribbon.

Alvarez, like may Berkeley residents, and even Safeway employees, agreed the old store was in dire need of a makeover. “But I never dreamed it would be like this,” she said, after being presented with a bouquet of flowers by the store’s manager, Kimberly Davis. “I’ll be coming in every other day.”

The revamped store has been a long time in the making, and not without complications. What started out as a plan to rebuild — and at one point included first-story housing — turned into an extensive remodel, albeit one that saw all but one original wall maintained. And the community expressed many concerns about the project along the way. … Continue reading »

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