Tag Archives: Mark Rhoades

Op-ed: A tale of two Measure Rs

Print Friendly

This is a tale of why and how the citizens of Berkeley got scammed by voting for the 2010 Measure R, and then scammed again when they voted against the 2014 Measure R. Let’s start with “why”. Why is the 2010 Measure R really a high-rise, luxury condo development plan that won’t help Berkeley’s housing problems or the environment? The answer is found in the global condo market driven by speculators parking some of their $30 trillion in liquidity (see Jack Rasmus’ “Epic Recession”) in luxury housing. These mostly foreign speculators are inflating a bubble identical to the mortgage backed securities bubble that popped in 2008. Developers are not building housing that will relieve the housing crisis for moderate and low income workers in the bay area. Instead they are catering to high-end demand from both speculators and techies.

But you might ask, doesn’t 2010 Measure R at least demand “green” construction? And the answer is NO. There is no such thing as “green” luxury condos. It’s an oxymoron — like green yachts. They waste resources. They drive up housing prices and force people who actually work in Berkeley to live elsewhere – leading to more waste from commuting. Expensive condos rented at $3k-$4k per month will result in other landlords also raising rents forcing more people to commute from outside Berkeley. Teachers, firefighters, police, hospital workers, city workers, and small business employees – they can’t afford to live in Berkeley. The city needs to demand that all new construction requiring a zoning variance be directed toward moderate or low income housing. New development should be used for public benefit, not to maximize profits. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Op-ed: Berkeley deserves better than 2211 Harold Way

Print Friendly

What are the three most import things in real estate? Location, Location, Location. What are the three most important things that are wrong with the proposed complex at 2211 Harold Way? Location, Location, Location. That’s just for starters.

Location – the Shattuck Cinemas attracts 275,000 to 300,000 patrons visit every year. Box office admissions have grown 25% since 2008, according to Kimberlee West, the general manager of Shattuck Cinemas. The Shattuck Cinemas are currently showing 11 films with 43 screenings (movie times for the 11 films) on weekdays and 44 screenings on the weekend. If the same number of people went to the movies every day that is 753 to 822 people per day. On May 7, at the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) meeting, Mark Rhoades, the consultant for 2211 Harold Way, declared that there would be nine theaters on three stories. But the plans, which were turned in to the LPC only show four theaters. Where are the other theaters? … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Housing, restaurant, garage planned at Spenger’s lot

A rendering of what 1900 Fourth St. may one day look like. Image: TCA Architects
Print Friendly

The owners of an empty lot on Fourth Street that’s a designated city landmark related to Ohlone Indian archeological remains have applied to build a mixed-use development on the site, adding to a burst of similar building in West Berkeley.

The move was expected after a recent archeological investigation of the property at 1900 Fourth, across the street from Spenger’s restaurant and used as a parking lot, failed to find anything of significance, according to a report commissioned by property owners, developers Ruegg & Ellsworth.

Read more about West Berkeley.

The 2014 investigation was the most recent chapter in a long, contentious debate about the history of the land and the boundaries of the well-documented West Berkeley Shellmound, a 30-foot-high hill of discarded shells, bones and other debris from years of Ohlone activity. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Berkeley Spats hopes to open by April

Mark Rhoades and Nathan George (right) are re-opening Spats. Photo: Katie Gladstein
Print Friendly

It’s taken longer than expected, but the Spats team in Berkeley is aiming for a soft opening in April, with an eye toward reviving old traditions while doing a good bit of sprucing, too, its operators said Monday.

Local developer Nathan George told Berkeleyside in August that he wanted to re-open Spats, at 1974 Shattuck Ave. (near Berkeley Way), by the fall. He said this week that finding the right management group and getting the liquor license transferred took longer than he’d foreseen.

“Everybody we received offers from wanted to gut it and change the name,” said George, who explained last year that he wanted to bring back the institution, rather than launch a new business in the space where Spats had existed, at one point called Oleg’s, since the 1950s.

He said he and Mark Rhoades, under the name Berkeley Soiree Life, decided around October to run Spats themselves, with the help of Tonic Nightlife Group, which has seven bars in San Francisco.

“We’re going to bring back the Fog Cutter,” said George, of one iconic Spats drink. “It will feel like Spats, but Spats in the 21st century.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Berkeley Zoning Board considers community benefits of proposed downtown high-rise

2211 Harold Way. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
Print Friendly

As Berkeley officials grappled with what the concept of “community benefits” actually means, the developer of the 18-story high rise at 2211 Harold Way announced at a Jan. 8 meeting of the Zoning Adjustments Board that he is willing to financially assist both the Habitot Children’s Museum and Boss, (Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency) as well as other organizations who must  relocate when the building is constructed.

Joseph Penner, head of Hill Street Investments of Los Angeles, also announced that Landmark Theaters had redesigned its plans for new theaters in the complex. There will now be nine theaters instead of the six theaters previously announced. Landmark has decided it will no longer include stadium seating in the theaters, which frees up room for additional theaters. (There are currently 11 theaters in the Shattuck Cinema complex.) … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Locals question Berkeley Plaza impact on theater, view

2211 Harold Way. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

2211 Harold Way. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Berkeley Spats owners hope for fall opening

Nathan George at Spats. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

Walking into Shattuck Avenue Spats in downtown Berkeley, it’s hard to believe it’s been out of operation since 2009. Tables and chairs are still in place, there’s liquor behind the bar. The quirky decor — complete with, among many other touches, taxidermy trophies and a Greco-Roman-styled mannequin woman — appears to be free of dust and ready to entertain once again.

It looks like all it might take is the flip of a switch to get the business running and, with a new team of owners having recently bought the building where Spats operated for decades, the bar may be poised to open again this fall.

Nathan George, a local developer who describes his approach as “Berkeley building Berkeley,” is one partner of about a dozen people who bought 1974 Shattuck Ave. with the goal of reopening Spats under its old name. The team is also exploring, longer term, the possibility of housing on the property. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Berkeley hotel plans halted pending initiative vote

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
Print Friendly

A proposal for a downtown Berkeley mixed-use high-rise hotel, which had begun working its way through the city’s approval process, is now on hold pending the outcome of November’s vote on an initiative that would significantly change the city’s zoning process and requirements.

A representative from the development team for the Berkeley Place project, where the Bank of America currently operates on Center Street, announced that decision before the Berkeley City Council in July and confirmed it in the middle of the month.

But the city official who represents downtown Berkeley, and who has been a main proponent behind the new initiative, has questioned the claims that the project has truly been halted. Councilman Jesse Arreguín said developers are using the specter of the initiative to scaremonger, and are using it to make a political point. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

At B-Side: Implications of downtown Berkeley initiative

At the first B-Side forum co-sponsored by The Hub and Berkeleyside, participants debated the merits of this fall's downtown initiative. From left, Lance Knobel of Berkeleyside, Jesse Arreguín and Eric Panzer. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Print Friendly

About 50 people gathered at Berkeley’s David Brower Center last week for a discussion about the ballot initiative supporters say will put more “green” in local development, but which opponents argue will stop new projects that are contributing to a downtown renaissance and are bringing critical amenities to the city.

Berkeley Councilman Jesse Arreguín faced off against Eric Panzer, chair of Livable Berkeley and the treasurer of the group opposing the initiative. They joined Berkeleyside co-founder Lance Knobel at Impact Hub Berkeley last Tuesday evening in the first of a series of informal discussions about Berkeley issues — co-sponsored by Berkeleyside and the Hub — called The B-Side.Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Zoning board approves ‘The Overture’ on University Ave.

The Overture looks like it's headed for University Avenue near downtown Berkeley. Image: Devi Dutta Architecture
Print Friendly

After a significant facelift, a new mixed-use development is slated to be built on University Avenue, taking the place of two small shops on the south side of the street west of Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Plans for “The Overture” were approved 8-1 by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday night after a nearly five-hour discussion focused on a variety of technical details related to the project.

Commissioners had largely positive observations about the idea behind developer Nathan George’s new building, noting that it has an array of amenities, particularly in terms of open space that’s set to include a large gym, communal kitchen, “generous lobby,” courtyard, landscaped roof deck and pleasant seating area for residents. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Would new green initiative kill 2 downtown high rises?

DSC_0126
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

‘The Overture’ apartments planned on University Ave.

1812 University Ave. could become "The Overture" apartments. Photo: Google maps
Print Friendly

A new mixed-use development on University Avenue, set to contain 41 units, has begun wending its way through the city of Berkeley’s permit approval process.

The Rhoades Planning Group, run by former city planner Mark Rhoades, submitted the application for the project in October. It has not yet been scheduled for design or zoning board review.

The project, called “The Overture” — perhaps referencing its 1812 University address with a nod to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture — would be a transit-oriented mixed-used building at University just west of Martin Luther King Jr. Way.   … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,