Tag Archives: Solano Avenue


5 Berkeley stories you will not want to miss

Principle Pasquale Scuderi eyes the new score board in the Building M gymnasium.
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Every week, Berkeleyside publishes dozens of articles about what’s going on in Berkeley. You’re busy — some of them might have passed you by. Here are five stories, including the one featured above, we think you’ll want to catch up on. 

2. What do you do when someone kills themselves with a potentially hazardous chemical?

What happened after a much-loved former Cal professor committed suicide using sodium azide at the Berkeley City Club.

3. Young man tries to buy 14 iPhones, 2 … Continue reading »

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Commission votes to restrict large drugstores in Berkeley

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Regulation to limit the number of large drugstores in Berkeley was approved by the city’s Planning Commission Wednesday night, sending the proposed zoning change to the City Council for a final decision.

If approved by the City Council, the law would prohibit a controversial new Walgreens from locating on 1830 Solano Avenue, currently the site of a 76 gas station. It would also make it difficult for new drugstores to locate in several of the city’s neighborhood shopping areas. The vote was five in favor, one opposed, and two abstentions.

It could take a couple of months for the item to be ready for the council’s agenda, said city planner Alex Amoroso, planning commission secretary. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley to consider restricting large drugstores, future of proposed Solano Ave. Walgreens store in the balance

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Berkeley is set to consider whether to limit the number of larger drugstores in the city, at least in certain neighborhoods, which may put a halt to disputed plans by Walgreens to open a new store on upper Solano Avenue.

The issue will be discussed at the city’s Planning Commission meeting Wednesday, March 19.

If the commission, a citizen’s group that advises the Berkeley City Council, approves drugstore zoning recommendations proposed by city staff, it will move Berkeley closer to legally prohibiting the proposed new Walgreens — a project that set in motion the city’s renewed examination of chain drugstore locations. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley marks Lunar New Year with street celebrations

Berkeley Lunar New Year 2014. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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A centuries old Chinese tradition of holding street performances came alive on Berkeley’s Fourth Street on Saturday with the neighborhood’s sixth annual celebration of the Lunar New Year (Solano Avenue also held its own event to ring in the Year of the Horse, on Sunday).

Bay Area troupe Kei Lun Martial Arts enacted vignettes of stories from Chinese opera, families participated in many free activities, including a martial arts demonstration and a lion dance, the lions blessed the local shops, and everyone joined in the parade.

Contributing photographer Nancy Rubin was there. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Oaks Theater efforts stall in negotiations

A local group spearheaded by Councilman Laurie Capitelli hopes to turn the Oaks Theater into a community arts space. Photo: Oaks Theater Consortium
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[Editor's note: This story was updated at 1:15 p.m. with additional information from Councilman Laurie Capitelli.]

A local consortium’s attempts to come to an agreement to use North Berkeley’s Oaks Theater on Solano Avenue and convert it into a community arts performance space have thus far been unsuccessful, reports Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who has spearheaded those efforts.

Capitelli provided an update to his constituents via email Friday. He thanked those who had expressed support for the venture, which kicked off last fall.

Last year, Capitelli, along with the Youth Musical Theater Company, formed a task force — the Oaks Theater Consortium — to spearhead the campaign to renovate the auditorium to remove the wall that separates the two theaters, take out several hundred seats from the balcony, and rebuild the main stage as a single performance space. The idea would be to bring together a group of anchor tenants from a range of arts organizations, and also potentially to offer simulcast viewings of special events like the Academy Awards or the Super Bowl, as well as host film festivals or smaller symposiums or panels. … Continue reading »

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Opponents of proposed Walgreens hope for zoning change

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UPDATE, 01.17.14: About 50 people showed up to the Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday and about half of them expressed their concerns about the proposed Walgreens on Solano Avenue. The commission discussed the issues but did not reach any conclusions. It asked Berkeley senior planner Alex Amoroso to come back to the commission having done further research. In particular, the commission wants direction of the definition of the word ‘drugstore,’ and questioned whether stores like Walgreens can be classified as department stores. It has not been decided when the issue will come back to the commission.

ORIGINAL STORY: Local residents who oppose a new Walgreens planned on the current site of a gas station at 1830 Solano Ave. (at Colusa) in Berkeley are hoping a potential new zoning amendment might derail the drugstore chain’s plans.

The city’s Planning Commission tonight will review a proposed 2011 zoning ordinance that would limit the number of new or expanded drugstores to within 1,000 feet of each other. The City Council had asked the commission to provide direction on the issue, and the proposal for a new Walgreens on Solano has brought the issue to the front burner. The commission could support the proposal as written, recommend revisions or changes, or decide against a recommendation, leaving the status quo.  … Continue reading »

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Albany’s China Village is still firing on all cylinders

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I’ll admit it. When I first moved to the Bay Area last summer, I was so overwhelmed by the abundance and variety of Chinese restaurants that I mostly avoided them. I frankly didn’t want to make the wrong choice in Oakland or San Francisco’s Chinatown and sit down at a table of anything less than stellar. Sure, I’ve made a few pilgrimages to hipper-than-thou Mission Chinese, enduring painfully long waits for a table for a taste of Danny Bowien’s famous dish of the moment. I like Mission Chinese just fine, but I figured there had to be a restaurant somewhere in the area where dining was less of an ordeal.

Turns out, the perfect spot was right under my nose. Unfortunately it wasn’t open yet.

At the time, East Bay diners more knowledgeable than I were eagerly waiting for the beloved Albany Szechuan restaurant, China Village, to re-open after a devastating fire in the spring of 2012. Famous for its merciless use of chilies and thoughtful, ingredient-driven menu, China Village has long been recognized as one of the strongest Szechuan restaurants in the Bay Area. I learned of the restaurant shortly after it re-opened in July, and have been eating there at least once a month since. … Continue reading »

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Walgreens’ Berkeley store plan inches divisively along

A rendering of the proposed Walgreens on Solano Avenue. Drawing courtesy Charles Kahn Architect
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A rumor circulating among those following the path of a proposed Walgreens on upper Solano Avenue that Berkeley architect Charles Kahn is no longer with the project is true. But extrapolations that this means efforts to build the store are in trouble are far from accurate, Khan said.

“Oh no, they’re full steam ahead,” said Kahn, who designed a building for the proposed project at the corner of Solano and Colusa avenues, the current site of a 76 gas station.

Confusion around Kahn’s role is just one of many emotive issues swirling around the controversial project, which is igniting strong opposition, including a Keep Walgreens Off Solano moveon.org petition with 1,401 signatures. … Continue reading »

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Last chance: Oaks Theater survey; sketches revealed

Visions of how Solano Avenue's Oaks Theater could one day look. Illustration: Miguel Lievano
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The possible transformation into a performance space of the shuttered Oaks Theater on Solano Avenue remains uncertain, but the final word on the deal could come sometime in November, according to several people involved with the transaction.

In the meantime, local real estate agent and council member Laurie Capitelli has been raising awareness, surveying the public and drumming up pledges of financial support to the tune of more than $120,000. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

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LOOKING GLASS PHOTO The venerable Berkeley camera store is having a grand opening celebration Oct. 19-20, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., to celebrate its new location at 1045 Ashby Ave. in the old Heinz family complex. The store had been at 2848 Telegraph Ave. for 30 years, but had grown so popular that, on some days, there was a line outside the 4,000-square-foot space, said Jen Waicukauski, who owns Looking Glass Photo with her father. The new store is twice that size and is offering “a better customer experience.” There will be free workshops, seminars and a raffle at the celebration. Reps from Canon, Nikon, Sony and elsewhere will be on hand, too. … Continue reading »

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The Oaks Theater may be reborn as performance space

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The Oaks Theater on Solano Avenue may be getting another lease at life.

City Councilman Laurie Capitelli and the Youth Musical Theater Company are launching a task force to transform the theater on Solano into a multi-use venue. The task force has already started reaching out to the numerous Berkeley arts organizations operating without a permanent space in the hopes of attracting a group of anchor tenants.

“We’d like to see some activity going on at the theater every night,” Capitelli, who represents the Solano Avenue area on the council, said. “Bringing in a simulcast of a Paris opera, having special events like the Academy Awards or the Super Bowl. We’re thinking of children’s matinee films, a summer series for kids who are out of school. Also panels, discussions, symposiums, etc.”

The Oaks Theater has long been an anchor site on Solano Avenue, but it has sat dark and vacant for the past two years. It was built as a single-screen theater in 1925 and upgraded to two screens in 1973. Renaissance Rialto Theaters operated the Oaks between 1994 and 2005, and then the Metropolitan Theaters Corporation ran it until 2010. Merriment Media used the theater to show Bollywood flicks for several months in 2010, but the company lost its lease after it failed to pay rent for three months. … Continue reading »

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The Solano Stroll returns on Sunday for 39th year

Solano Stroll-5 Nancy Rubin
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Labor Day weekend may be over, but Bay Area residents can still look forward to some downtime at the Solano Stroll. The East Bay’s largest street festival is back on Sunday Sept. 8, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visitors can celebrate the Stroll’s 39th year with a mile-long stretch of attractions, including fantastic food, music, rides and live entertainment.

The annual festival, which is hosted each year by Albany and Berkeley, will feature 500 street vendors, as well as all the businesses and organizations that line Solano Avenue’s 26 blocks. The event is expected to draw 250,000 visitors,  including folks from across California and from neighboring states.

In a departure from previous years — which have seen zany themed parades like 2012′s “Step into the Future”–  the theme this year will be a little toned down.

“It’s simply red: how much red can you wear and how creatively can you wear it,” said Allen Cain, who has been the principal organizer of the Stroll for the past six years and is the guru of all things Solano. “We’re trying  a new thing to bring the focus back to the district as a place where you can come every day as opposed to highlighting the district as a place you come to for just one event,” Cain said. … Continue reading »

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Nosh on the town: Ajanta on Solano Avenue

Chicken mulligatawney at Ajanta. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Come along with Nosh as we explore East Bay restaurants in photographs. This week we focus on Ajanta restaurant in Berkeley. Chef Lachu Moorjani began offering a tasting menu in the winter. It costs $27 — or $24 for the vegetarian version — and must be ordered by everyone at the table. Moorjani shifts the menu, representing the “best of the best” at Ajanta, slightly each month. (Ajanta invited Nosh to come check out the new menu, and provided the food pictured here free of charge.)

If you’ve tried the spots we feature, please let us know about your experience in the comments below. If you’d like to submit your own photo gallery for consideration from a meal you enjoyed, please email nosh@berkeleyside.com for more information. You can also add photographs to our Flickr group. (Scroll down for captions. Photos by Emilie Raguso.) … Continue reading »

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