By Gill South
Berkeley City Council last night adopted a first reading of regulations that will limit the number of large drugstores from opening in certain areas of the city.
The city of Berkeley will have a new tool to halt the proliferation of large drugstores around town if a law to create buffer zones between them is approved by officials later this month.
Regulation to limit the number of large drugstores in Berkeley was approved by the city’s Planning Commission on Wednesday night, sending the proposed zoning change to the City Council for a final decision.
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.
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.
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.
A proposed Walgreens on upper Solano Avenue is meeting feisty resistance from neighbors, even before the developer has started the city’s official permit process for the project.
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. (more…)
ACROSS THE WAY Walgreens opened the doors Monday to its new and larger store at 2190 Shattuck Avenue at Allston Way, right across the street from its old location (the pharmacy department will open tomorrow). The new store is 5,000 sq ft larger and is full of items that appeal to the student population: fresh produce, fresh coffee, ready-to-eat take out food like salads, and items to decorate a dorm room or apartment. As Shop Talk reported in December 2011, Sansome Pacific bought the building, which once housed the Ross Department store, and extensively remodeled it. Nokia, the smart phone manufacturer, has rented 10,000 square feet of space for a research center on the top floor, according to Aileen Dolby of Collier’s International. The company used to have about 4,200 sq ft of space on University Avenue.
SMOKY NO MORE Ken Looney has closed his Looney’s Southern Bar -B-Que at 2190 Bancroft Ave. after five years of operation. He closed it Dec. 11 because he could not come to acceptable terms with the landlord when his lease expired, according to an employee at one of Looney’s Oakland locations.
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