Tag Archives: Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto
Critics question impacts of ‘Spenger’s parking lot’ project on Berkeley Fourth Street, Ohlone heritage
Berkeley community and zoning board members had a chance Thursday to weigh in on what the environmental impact report for a large mixed-use project planned for 1900 Fourth St. should focus on.
The “Spenger’s parking lot” project has been in the works for years, with efforts ramping up in 2014 when project reps said they found no evidence at the site of a Native American shellmound created in West Berkeley by the Ohlone Indians.
Members of the public who came to share their views about the project March 10 with the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board said they were not convinced by that assertion. Some said the land where the parking lot is now should be purchased by the city and turned into a park to honor the history and culture of the Ohlone. The property at 1900 Fourth is a city landmark, dating back to 2000, within the potential boundaries of the West Berkeley shellmound. The exact location of the shellmound is unknown and has been a matter of much debate.
Other speakers Thursday questioned the scale of the project, and how it will fit in with the surrounding neighborhood, as well as traffic impacts, air quality and liquefaction. The lot is bordered by Fourth Street, Hearst Avenue, University Avenue and the railroad tracks running east of Interstate 80.
A sprawling complex is planned at 1900 Fourth, across from the historic Spenger’s restaurant, set to reach up to 5 stories, with 135 apartments and a 372-space parking garage open to both residents and the public. The project’s approximately 207,600 square feet are slated to include about 33,000 square feet of retail and restaurant uses. The property is owned by Ruegg and Ellsworth, a real estate group that co-owns the parking lot with the Spenger family, which sold its Fresh Fish Grotto years ago. Robert Ellsworth, a Berkeley native, is co-owner of Ruegg and Ellsworth. The developer of the project is BHV CenterStreet Properties based in Danville.
(A video “fly through” of the project, created by the architect and set to music, appears below.) … Continue reading »
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 »
More than two dozen African-American students, many from UC Berkeley, tried to disrupt “business as usual” on Saturday by staging a protest in Berkeley’s upscale Fourth Street shopping district.
The students, as well as some community activists, started walking through various shops and restaurants around 11 a.m. chanting, “Which side are you on, my people? Which side are you on? We are on the freedom side.” Some carried signs that read: “Sorry 4 the inconvenience, We wanna change the world,” and “RIP” showing a drawing of a young man wearing a hoodie. … Continue reading »
Citing the need to revitalize a business that’s been on the decline for decades, a developer is seeking to make major changes to the West Berkeley block where Spenger’s Fish Grotto has operated since 1933.
Berkeley’s Abrams/Millikan, an architecture and design firm, has big plans for the Fourth Street property, which include the creation of a new beer garden, and the addition of retail shops, office space and parking. The existing restaurant use will remain, but on a smaller scale.
The city’s Design Review Committee took a look at those plans last week, but Abrams/Millkan — working with San Francisco-based Jamestown Properties — held a community meeting in June to provide an overview of the project. According to developers, about 20 people attended, and seven people signed a petition in support of the project, which is called “Fourth & Spenger.” The project was submitted to the city by Elliott Abrams later that month.
Read more about development in Berkeley.
In total, developers plan to add just 10,000 square feet of structure to the property. But some existing buildings on the block are set to be demolished and replaced with new uses, including about 3,500 feet for the beer garden and adjacent patio, nearly 18,000 square feet of new retail shops — on the corners of both Fourth and Fifth streets at Hearst Avenue — and 1,900 square feet for a new fish market next to the restaurant. … Continue reading »
After months of poking, prodding, sifting and examining soil, an archeological dig beneath the parking lot across from Spenger’s restaurant on Fourth Street found no evidence it had ever been home to a Native American shellmound.
The findings that the site was not historically important means the owners will seek to develop it.
“Investigators found no historically significant remnants of the West Berkeley Shellmound within the parking lot grounds and have concluded to near certainty that none exist within the property,” says a report on the findings by archeologist Allen Pastron and his team from Archeo-Tec Inc., an Oakland-based firm. The dig team included an Ohlone Indian observer, Andrew Galvan. … Continue reading »
So what’s lurking behind the recently erected wire fence around the Spenger’s parking lot, on Berkeley’s Fourth Street?
That’s precisely what the property owners are trying to find out with an archeological dig. And not for the first time.
“My hope is to clarify what cultural resources might exist so we can make the best decision on the use of the property from the standpoint of all concerned,” said Dana Ellsworth, whose family business, Ruegg and Ellsworth, co-owns the lot with a Spenger’s family entity. (They don’t own Spenger’s restaurant.) … Continue reading »
Over the past 34 years, Art and Lucille Poskanzer, who dine out at least once a week, have compiled what is probably the only dedicated restaurant guide to Berkeley and Oakland. However, unless you happen to work at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, it’s unlikely you will have seen it.
That changes today, as Berkeleyside is honored to be able to introduce “Restaurants in the Berkeley Area”, which includes regularly updated reviews of 100 restaurants in Berkeley and 80 in Oakland, as well as maps and a recent news section.
The printed guide began life in 1978 as “Guide to Berkeley’s Restaurants and Hot Tubs”. It was conceived by Berkeley Lab physicist Art Poskanzer, who, that year, was tasked with hosting an international nuclear physics conference which drew in many out-of-town visitors.
“This was the days before Yelp,” Poskanzer says today. “We wanted to be able to provide a useful dining-out resource for visitors.” … Continue reading »
The unexpected rain on Sunday in Berkeley didn’t put much of a damper on the 11th annual Spenger’s Restaurant Crabby Chefs Seafood Festival on Fourth Street. The drizzle stopped right before the 2 pm “Iron Chef” cook-off featuring chefs from seven local restaurants, schools, and catering companies.
Each Friday in this space food writer Sarah Henry asks a well-known, up-and-coming, or under-the-radar food aficionado about their favorite tastes in town, preferred food purveyors and other local culinary gems worth sharing.
UC Berkeley graduate Cristina Lau, 23, heads up the non-profit Berkeley’s Kitchen, which runs cooking classes and hosts food events with an emphasis on affordable, ethnic eats.
Check out the group’s website for upcoming activities.