Tag Archives: Safeway

Solano Avenue: The pressure is on for North Berkeley shopping district to up its game

The Oaks on Solano, as of September 2014. Photo: Mary Flaherty
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When French-style bakery La Farine abruptly closed up shop on Berkeley’s Solano Avenue this summer, there was an outcry from local residents. Its departure also created another empty storefront on a street that has its fair share of them, particularly in its easternmost stretch, near The Alameda.

But La Farine owner Jeff Dodge said he misses the North Berkeley commercial district and is actively looking for a way to return there. And Gina Gould, the landlord of the building Dodge vacated, at 1820 Solano, said she’s confident she will sign up a new, likely food-related, business for the space before Christmas.

The new store will join a cluster of new businesses that have opened, or are about to, on the wide shopping street that stretches 2 miles east to west through Albany and Berkeley.

Will they bring new energy to a street that is known for its gigantic annual Solano Stroll event, but which, unlike Berkeley’s Elmwood or Gourmet Ghetto neighborhoods, retains a slightly folksy feel? … Continue reading »

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Construction halted at Safeway on College and Claremont

A shot taken Dec. 5 by video cam of the Safeway lot on College and Claremont.
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Update 1/24/14: After three months of no activity, Safeway is reporting that construction resumed on the new Safeway store on Jan. 21. The company finally received a building permit from the city of Oakland after it consulted with the Rockridge Community Planning Council and other community groups, according to the Safeway website.

“As you may remember, Safeway signed a settlement agreement over a year ago with several Rockridge community groups that required Safeway to confer with them about major design refinements after the City of Oakland approved the project for construction.  Over the past five months, we have had very productive meetings with these community groups regarding design changes that were needed in order to accommodate the store’s structural and operational systems.  We have now reached a point in those discussions where we can resume activity at the site, while continuing to communicate with the community groups as construction progresses.”

Original story: For the past two months, there has been no construction at the site of the new Safeway store at College and Claremont avenues on the Oakland-Berkeley border. But Safeway and

The Pleasanton-based company halted work on the project after Oakland stopped processing its building permit. Oakland took that step because Safeway had violated its 2012 agreement with neighborhood groups to discuss major design changes before submitting a permit application to the city.

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Oakland Safeway gets green light for makeover

Oakland's Planning Commission has given the green light to Safeway to completely raze its current site at 51st and Broadway. Image: JRDV Architects
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By Karen Hester

[Editor’s Note: This post first appeared on LOAKAL, and has been reprinted here with the permission of its author, Karen Hester. Hester, a community advocate who has followed the Safeway project for years, shares her personal reflections of how the project approvals came about, and what it entails.]

For those of us who live in North Oakland, the redevelopment of the Safeway store and its surrounding parcels at 51st and Broadway is the biggest development to happen in the area for possibly the next 50 years, after MacArthur BART’s makeover. At its September meeting, the Oakland Planning Commission unanimously gave the green light to Safeway to completely raze the current site in two phases. Safeway has the master lease for the whole site and its main motivation has been to compete with the upscale and thriving markets in Oakland and Berkeley, including the Berkeley Bowls and the two Whole Foods, as well as Trader Joe’s. Another extreme makeover for the Safeway at College and Claremont also received Planning Commission approval last summer after a long fight with local neighbors. Demolition has already been completed on that site. … Continue reading »

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Demolition starts on Safeway on College Avenue

Demolition began Monday on the Safeway store on College and Claremont.Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Oakland Mayor Jean Quan joined Safeway officials and neighborhood activists Monday to celebrate the official groundbreaking for a new store at the intersection of College and Claremont avenues.

After a few hellos and speeches, everyone got down to the main event: watching two huge bulldozers start to tear down the 49-year-old structure.

“Right now we have a store to knock down so let’s get some sledgehammers and get going,” Todd Paradis, Safeway’s real estate manager, said to the two dozen people assembled. … Continue reading »

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Safeway on College to close on July 8 for major rebuild

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The Safeway store at the intersection of College and Claremont avenues on the Berkeley-Oakland border will close on July 8 for 12 months to undergo a major rebuild which has been more than seven years in the planning.

Neighborhood appeals against the project — which will create a bigger store with a public plaza, rooftop parking and a number of small retail outlets — caused the delay. Concerns centered on the scale of the proposed store.

Eventually the size was reduced, and the store was brought down to street level (from a proposed second-floor design); limits were agreed on the number and type of other retail outlets on site; Safeway was required to provide enough parking for the new development, and to pay for parking permits in perpetuity for nearby residents.   … Continue reading »

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What fate a memorial plaque at College Avenue Safeway?

Safeway plaque
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If you happen to park in a particular spot in the parking lot of the College Avenue Safeway, near the Claremont Avenue exit, you might stumble on what seems to be a grave marker.

Someone buried in Safeway’s lot on the Oakland-Berkeley border? Unlikely, given California’s burial restrictions — some of the strictest in the nation.

The plaque is in fact a memorial for a young woman who died in 1998 at the age of 29, and whose birthday happened to fall on the day Berkeleyside came across the plaque last week.

Cherese Henderson worked at Safeway in the late 1990s.

Linda Jordan is one of four remaining Safeway employees who worked with Henderson. She recalled the day she died. “Cherese and I were on the way to taking food to a funeral for the son of a customer who had been killed at Jack-in-the-Box,” she said. “Cherese called the next morning, saying she wasn’t feeling well.” Cherese died about an hour after that call of a blood clot in her throat, Jordan said.

The memorial marker was donated by then Safeway store manager, Rich Matasage, said Jordon. After Berkeleyside noted that memorial markers can be expensive, Jordan said: “She was worth it. She was a special person: warm, loving, caring.” … Continue reading »

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New Safeway on College green-lighted, designs revealed

A bird's-eye view of plans for a new Safeway on College Avenue. Source: Lowney Architecture
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A new Safeway grocery store and retail development planned for College and Claremont avenues has gotten the nod from Oakland officials after seven long years in the making, and a hard-won community consensus on the heels of steep resistance from many residents.

The Oakland City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to deny a neighborhood appeal against the project, after representatives from several community groups reached an agreement with the grocery store company earlier this week. (The appeal could not simply be withdrawn, despite the signed agreement, due to procedural rules, city staff said.)

The settlement agreement over the particulars of the College Avenue Safeway project resulted from several intensive mediation sessions, run by Oakland Councilwoman Jane Brunner, between Safeway and neighborhood reps over the past five weeks. The sessions came about in the face of a possible lawsuit from community members who opposed aspects of the development that had been approved by the Oakland Planning Commission. … Continue reading »

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Residents air concerns about College Ave. Safeway plans

Dozens of local residents attended a community meeting Dec. 13 to hear the latest about the College Avenue Safeway plans. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update, 5:23 p.m.: Via Stuart Flashman, “After another five hours of negotiating today (following up on two hours over the weekend) the agreement has been finalized. The RCPC Board (which has been primed for a vote since Friday) promptly approved the agreement by electronic vote. The other two groups (FANS and BPOD) will be voting tonight, but the community negotiators are unanimously recommending approval.”

Original story, 2:15 p.m.

With what may be the final major approvals for a new Safeway store on College Avenue set to take place Tuesday night before the Oakland City Council, residents came together for an update late last week.

About 60 community members attended a session Thursday night run by several mediators who have, along with Oakland Councilwoman Jane Brunner, helped broker a deal to get Safeway to respond to neighborhood concerns and bring negotiations to a close so the project can move forward after seven years in development. … Continue reading »

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News

Safeway on College needs all-new design after mediation

A mediation sketch of plans for a Safeway reconstruction on College Avenue on the Berkeley-Oakland border, November 2012. Image: Lowney Architecture
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In response to pressure from neighbors, Safeway has scrapped years of work and agreed to a smaller, street-level store for its site at the junction of College and Claremont avenues, with enough parking, store reps say, for all of its customers.

When the project comes back before the Oakland City Council on Dec. 18, officials and community members will see a whole new set of plans, said architect Ken Lowney of the Oakland-based Lowney Architecture. Tuesday night, Lowney presented the council with rough sketches for the 45,500 square foot store, which is set to open onto College Avenue just north of a plaza separating it from a new, 9,500 square foot retail space.

As for all the site plans, renderings and videos for the project (viewable on the store’s website), “it’s all out the window for now,” said Lowney. Coming up with a whole new design in the next few weeks could pose a major challenge. The previous design took his firm about six weeks to complete. But, he said: “We’re just going take a run at it.” … Continue reading »

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Breaking: Neighbors, Safeway agree on College Ave. store

Safeway on College (via http://www.safewayoncollege.com)

This story was updated at 4:35 p.m. 

A mediation effort between Safeway and three community groups opposing aspects of the grocer’s College Avenue store has resulted in a resolution and new agreement, according to statements released this week.

As a result, final action on an appeal before the Oakland City Council set for Tuesday, Nov. 13, has been postponed until Dec. 18., according to a statement from Safeway.

Oakland city staff said at 4:30 p.m. that the hearing will still take place and community members will be allowed to speak, given the late notice, but that council members could announce tonight whether a decision will be postponed. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-Ed: Why I support plans for the Safeway on College

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In July, the Berkeley City Council took up the EIR agreement for the proposed Safeway store on College Avenue in Oakland’s Rockridge district right on the Berkeley border. Buoyed by the protests of the attendees, Mayor Bates summarized the objections of the council, “it’s just too big for the location.”

In the debate about the Rockridge Safeway, there is little understanding of how the 61,000 sq ft design came about. Why is this project so big? Why have they piled … 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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News

Oakland Planning Commission approves Safeway plans

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On Wednesday, the Oakland Planning Commission unanimously certified the final EIR and approved Safeway’s proposed plans for its College Avenue store which sits on the Oakland-Berkeley border.

A statement released by Aroner, Jewel & Ellis Partners, who have been retained by Safeway, said the grocery store was “heartened by the commission’s support and their comments in support of the design, the size and the community benefit our proposal would convey on Rockridge.”

The statement continued: “The commission did not agree with the opponent’s assertions that our project violated zoning, or that traffic was unmitigatable. They did not buy arguments that the store would negatively affect the small merchants across the street, or that the EIR was in any way inadequate.” … Continue reading »

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