Tag Archives: Trachtenberg Architects

Real estate

New housing OK’d in Berkeley as ‘YIMBYs’ win the night

A rendering of the proposed view of 2902 Adeline, looking southwest from Adeline and Russell streets. Image: Trachtenberg Architects
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A 6-story building set to include 50 rental units and four live-work units was approved Thursday night by Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board, though neighborhood opposition will likely mean an appeal to City Council.

Nearly 300 people have signed a petition asking for changes to the project, at 2902 Adeline St. in South Berkeley, and many showed up Thursday to testify before the zoning board. Many neighbors asked the board to delay its vote until the Adeline Corridor community process is complete, or to approve a 4-story building instead.

The Adeline Corridor planning process has been underway since 2015, but it was paused while the city changed consultants to herald it through to completion, city leaders said recently. It is scheduled to end in 2017. The majority of the board, citing in part the housing crisis, did not indicate support for holding up development pending the completion of that process.

The project has drawn so much attention both because of its size and because the South Berkeley neighborhood has not seen the level of development happening in recent years around downtown, or along many of the city’s other large commercial avenues, such as University and San Pablo, in West Berkeley or in the Southside neighborhood near the UC Berkeley campus.

Supporters of the petition are lobbying for a minimum of 40% below-market-rate units in the project and more parking, as well as community benefits from developer Realtex, such as the dedication of 5% of rental proceeds to South Berkeley nonprofits. Zoning board members said Thursday night that those asks are beyond what the city can require, and a majority of the board voted to approve the project as submitted.

Public testimony lasted for more than three hours and included many passionate speakers on both sides: neighbors concerned with the project’s impacts on South Berkeley, as well as advocates of increased density, particularly on transit corridors and near BART, who say the state’s housing crisis demands timely approval of projects like this one. Unlike many zoning board meetings where public comment tends to be dominated by stiff opposition, Thursday night’s speakers included quite a few voices in favor of approval.

Many in the former group were dismissive of those in the latter camp of self-described “YIMBYs,” or “yes-in-my-back-yard” residents, who say they want to see appropriate housing built as quickly as possible. Petition-signers tended to be homeowners who are older and have lived in the city longer. Many of the YIMBYs said they didn’t live in the immediate neighborhood, were younger renters, and were more likely to be car-free or “car-light.”

“It’s fairly obvious to me who doesn’t live in the neighborhood,” one man told the board as he described the reasons for his opposition to the project. “It’s completely out of context for the neighborhood. I’m not interested in turning Berkeley into New York City.” … Continue reading »

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Grocery Outlet to close Aug. 20; housing planned

The Berkeley Grocery Outlet is closing Aug. 20 to make way for housing. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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It’s the end of an era in West Berkeley with Grocery Outlet closing later this month to make way for about 150 new housing units.

Grocery Outlet told Berkeleyside that its final day open in Berkeley, at 2001 Fourth St., will be Saturday, Aug. 20. That followed an email blast from the company to customers alerting them of the closure.

“We’re Sad to Go,” the email read. “It is with heavy hearts that we prepare to leave our Berkeley location. Please take advantage of our Liquidation Sale.”

Shoppers who visit the store now will find 20% sales in many departments.

“Thank you for being our customers in Berkeley. We’ll be opening more Bay Area locations soon,” the brief message reads.

One employee who said she was not authorized to speak with the media said store staff would be transferred to other locations. Berkeleyside has reached out to Grocery Outlet for confirmation.

Shoppers said Wednesday that they were sorry to see the store close. … Continue reading »

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National construction company moves to Berkeley, will repurpose Flint Ink building as its HQ

ProVen Management building. Image: courtesy Trachtenberg Architects
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PrōVen Management, a national engineering construction company that specializes in large-scale infrastructure projects, is moving its operations from San Francisco’s Jackson Square area to West Berkeley, and is turning the old Flint Ink factory into its new headquarters.

Berkeley architect David Trachtenberg is overseeing the transformation, and he said it’s one of the most exciting projects he’s worked on for some time. The plans for the site, at 1350 Fourth Street (at Gilman), include a contractor’s yard for storage of heavy equipment, a new 5,000 sq. ft equipment repair shed, and renovation of the existing 35,000 square feet of buildings for use as storage, offices, conference space, and a private art gallery. The project has received landmarks and zoning approvals and is currently in design development.

PrōVen founder Alan Varela said the company chose the Berkeley location for a number of reasons: much of the company’s large construction equipment is stored in nearby Oakland, the cost of the site was appealing compared to San Francisco (though he says Berkeley’s property taxes have proved a “surprise”), and Varela himself is now closer to his principal home in Lafayette. “I don’t have to cross the Bay Bridge,” he said. … Continue reading »

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Housing to replace Berkeley Grocery Outlet building

The zoning board approved a new development at 2001 Fourth St. in December. Image: Trachtenberg Architects
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A mixed-use housing complex, designed by Trachtenberg Architects, has been approved for Fourth Street and University Avenue in West Berkeley, along with about 8,500 square feet of retail the developer says he hopes could become a grocery store.

The 5-story, 152-unit complex at 2001 Fourth St. is set to include nearly 200 vehicle parking spots, as well as space for more than 80 bicycles and nine motorcycles. Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board approved the project at its Dec. 11 meeting nearly unanimously, with seven members in favor, Commissioner Igor Tregub voting against the project, and Commissioner Steven Donaldson recusing himself because he is a neighbor.

Read more about West Berkeley.

The project is slated to include 12 very-low-income units — to be distributed throughout the property — and will also pay $400,000 into the city’s Housing Trust Fund, which the city uses to help build additional affordable housing in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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‘The Aquatic’ wins easy approval from Berkeley officials

The Aquatic mixed-use development at 800 University Ave. in Berkeley could open by summer 2015. Image: Trachtenberg Architects
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A proposal for a new University Avenue mixed-use development, set to include 58 units, sailed through Berkeley zoning board review Thursday night, winning acclaim from commissioners for what they said was its beautiful design and sensitivity to the surrounding neighborhood.

The 45- to 55-foot-tall building will feature 1,175 square feet of office or retail space, and 60 parking spaces. Two structures currently on site — which have housed a construction company, a veterinary clinic (circa 1973) and, later, medical research labs — will be demolished to make way for the project, which is named “The Aquatic” and was designed by Berkeley-based Trachtenberg Architects. (See the project staff report here.)

The building project site, at 800 University Ave. on the south side of the street, straddles two different zoning designations; as a result, the north side of the property will reach five stories, and the southern portion will rise to just four. Parking will be provided in both a ground-floor garage and an open lot behind the building. Four units in the development will be available to very-low income residents, and the project will put $240,000 into the city’s Housing Trust Fund. … Continue reading »

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Sierra Nevada’s Berkeley tasting room to open soon

TorpedoRoomBuilding_web
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Sierra Nevada, the craft brewing company known for its pale ale, now has a name and an opening month for its new tasting room on Berkeley’s Fourth Street.

The Torpedo Room — the name is inspired by the brewery’s dry-hopping device, the Hop Torpedo — is slated to open next month.

It won’t be a big place, and, other than light snacks, food is not part of the plan. Instead, the idea is to host about 45 craft beer drinkers for “educational tastings.” The Torpedo Room will feature 16 taps, and draught beer will be served in taster flights. Guests will also be able to fill growlers to go, as well as buying six-packs, cases and individual specialty bottles. … Continue reading »

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Places

Community farm buys 2+ acres in West Berkeley

Adam Berman, the founder of Urban Adamah, stands on the boundary of the property the group has purchased on Sixth Street. Cordonices Creek is behind him. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Urban Adamah, the community farm that has been operating out of rented quarters on Parker Street for two and a half years, is in contract to purchase a 2.2-acre lot next to a restored section of Codornices Creek in West Berkeley.

The organization, which integrates Jewish traditions, environmental education, mindfulness and social action, purchased the land at Sixth and Harrison streets from the U.S. Post Office for $2.1 million and has until Aug. 4 to come up with the funds, according to Adam Berman, the founder of Urban Adamah.  The land, at 1151 Sixth, is undeveloped and sits next door to the post office’s main processing facility.  … Continue reading »

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Architecture

Nine Berkeley buildings win ‘design excellence’ awards

UCB - Stadium and SAHPC6
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Nine buildings have been singled out as representing the best new design work in Berkeley for 2010-2012. Berkeley Design Advocates, a volunteer group of architects and urban planners, selected three UC Berkeley buildings, a restaurant, a senior home, two retail spaces — one newly built, one restored — a wine store, and the renovation of a branch library from a list of 15 submissions, and handed out the award certificates at a ceremony on Thursday, March 28. (See the 2013 Awards Brochure for full details.)

This year threw up a particularly impressive crop of winners, according to Anthony Bruzzone, President of BDA, who said that two years ago, with the recession having put the kibosh on many construction projects, the group was concerned it might have no buildings to consider at all in 2013. … Continue reading »

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Sierra Nevada to open beer tasting room on Fourth Street

The Sierra Nevada tasting room in Chico. Photo: Sierra Nevada
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Sierra Nevada, the craft brewing company known for its pale ale, is planning to open a tasting room on Fourth Street by the end of the year.

The Chico-based company will serve around 16 different types of beer in a 1,700-square-foot space in the Read Building at 2031 Fourth St., next door to Title Nine. There will be a long bar and a number of high tables. The emphasis will be on beer, not food.

“It will be a small, intimate tasting room,” said Sierra Nevada spokesman Ryan Arnold. “It will not be a place where you get a meal or lounge around. We want you to be next to the bar where you are engaged with the staff, learning about beer.” … Continue reading »

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News

House fire on Berkeley’s Benvenue Avenue, no injuries

Benvenue fire by David Trachtenberg
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A home caught fire on Benvenue Avenue just north of Ashby in the early hours of Wednesday.

Eyewitnesses say the house in question was 2924 Benvenue and report seeing a significant blaze. A neighbor who lives on Ashby Avenue said she was woken by sirens and the smell of smoke inside her home at roughly 12:20 am on Wednesday.

According to a Bay City News report, the occupants of the single-family home were able to escape from the house uninjured and initial reports suggest that the three-alarm fire may have been caused by a propane tank in the rear of the house. According to one source, one of the occupants of the home was a wheelchair user and the fire police department got her safely out of the house. … Continue reading »

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Comal: New restaurant takes a bet on downtown Berkeley

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On Friday, John Paluska will throw open the heavy steel doors to his ambitious new restaurant, Comal, which he hopes will become a magnet for local residents and a cultural incubator. “I see it as a big tent that I hope will become the heart of the community,” he said last week as he stood in the expansive, airy space at 2020 Shattuck Avenue, overseeing a plethora of pre-launch preparations.

Comal will be cooking up Oaxaca-inspired Mexican food — masa-based dishes such as Tetelas, memelas, and tlayudas, whole grilled fish, chickens and fresh vegetables –– much of it cooked on an Italian wood-burning range and two “comals” — large round griddles which take center stage in the restaurant’s open kitchen and, says Paluska, also serve to evoke the “hearth as gathering place” ambiance he is seeking to create there.

Chef Matt Gandin, formerly of Delfina in San Francisco, says he wants to explore the complexities of a cuisine that he feels is “waiting to be discovered”.

Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Scout: closing Claremont Avenue store
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VIVA MEXICO It’s countdown time to the opening of a “big” new restaurant in downtown Berkeley. Comal, a Oaxaca-inspired Mexican eatery which will seat around 160 customers both inside and at an outdoor patio area, is slated to open its doors on May 2 very soon. Last week, its new Cor-Ten steel façade, designed by Berkeley architect David Trachtenberg, was unveiled. Currently a shimmering silver, the steel will gradually turn a rusty burned orange color as it oxidizes. Former Delfina chef Matt Gandin will be running the kitchen, and its name, according to Eater SF, comes from the restaurant’s namesake comals, or Mexican griddles, which take pride of place in the restaurant’s exhibition kitchen. Berkeley firm Abueg Morris has gutted the 1927 building at 2020 Shattuck Avenue, and used reclaimed wood floors, wainscoting and poured concrete walls to give it a clean, contemporary feel.

DESIGN SHUTTER Scout, the home decor and staging company, has closed its retail store at 3088 Claremont Avenue less than 12 months after moving there from Temescal. The company will continue to operate its home staging and interior decorating service from the studio in the same spot. Scout will also offer furniture and lighting, as well as Farrow & Ball paints. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley developer sees future in small, smart homes

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In a top-secret location in Berkeley, Patrick Kennedy is showing a reporter around a tiny living space — so compact in fact that, at 160 sq ft, it is the smallest apartment one is legally allowed to build.

“It is how small you can go without causing psychological problems,” jokes Kennedy, who, through his company, Panoramic Interests, is responsible for developing swathes of Berkeley. His projects include the Gaia Building on Allston Way, the Berkeleyan Apartments on Oxford Street, and the Touriel Building on University.

The “bijou” apartment in which we are standing, with its trompe l’oeil view of the Bay Bridge, is the prototype for the SmartSpace, a largely prefabricated, furnished space that, when multiplied and stacked together like Lego blocks, creates a fully fledged apartment building. … Continue reading »

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