Tag Archives: West Berkeley

‘Double-roundabouts’ approved at Berkeley’s Gilman interchange; can’t happen without Measure BB money

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After many months of analysis, and about a decade in development, Caltrans has said the city can move ahead with plans for proposed double-roundabouts in the problematic I-80 and Gilman Street interchange in West Berkeley.

It’s the first time the transportation agency has approved a concept for double-roundabouts in the region, according to city of Berkeley transportation chief Farid Javandel. In early October, Caltrans gave Berkeley staff the green light to move ahead with an environmental review of the project, and the city went public with the news Monday.

Whether the project can actually happen depends on the November election: Funding for the double-roundabouts, along with other significant investments in Berkeley, is part of Measure BB, the county-wide transportation tax. Without approval of that measure, the city won’t be able to proceed. (Scroll down for details.)

Currently, there are eight entry points to the intersection on either side of the freeway. The intersections are controlled by stop signs but drivers are often unsure about who has the right of way. Berkeleyside readers have called the area “a ridiculous mess” and “the most dysfunctional intersection … anywhere in the United States.”

The city has said the intersection “is one of the most problematic in Berkeley. It also generates the most complaints.” … Continue reading »

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Allegro Coffee to open at new Berkeley Whole Foods

Jeremy Allegro
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Allegro Coffee Roasters is set to open a craft coffee shop in the Whole Foods Market store at 10th and Gilman in West Berkeley which is slated to open on Nov. 4. It is Allegro’s second location after Brooklyn where it also has a shop within Whole Foods.

Allegro Coffee Company was founded in 1977 in Boulder, CO, and was one of the first certified organic roasters in the country. It was bought by Whole Foods in 1997 and, since then, Whole Foods has offered Allegro’s coffee as its signature house roast. Allegro continues to operates as its own business entity from its Boulder HQ.

At the new Berkeley store, Allegro will be roasting and grinding beans on-site. The coffee shop will be at one end of the store with a separate roll-up door for those who want to drop by for coffee and aren’t necessarily shopping for groceries. Whole Foods spokesperson Beth Krauss said there will be “a nice breezy seating area outside the venue too.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

1 held, 1 freed in Berkeley hatchet homicide

The man police believe was Berkeley's first homicide victim of 2014 lived in this building on Addison Street. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A judge has freed a woman arrested after the killing of a Berkeley man in February, but ruled Thursday that her boyfriend must face the murder charge against him in the case.

Late Thursday afternoon, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon said enough evidence had been presented for 29-year-old Michael Diggs to continue to face prosecution in the Feb. 28 homicide of Sylvan Fuselier in his West Berkeley home.

A woman police said was Diggs’ accomplice in the case, 41-year-old , will not be prosecuted, and is set to be released from custody. She has been incarcerated without bail since March 31. Her attorney, James Giller, said her involvement amounted to “pure speculation,” and the judge ultimately agreed to drop the murder charge against her.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley carjacking suspect charged in Oakland murder

Bennie Williams. Image: OPD
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A man linked to an armed carjacking in West Berkeley on Sunday, after reportedly ditching another stolen vehicle, has been charged with the Oakland murder of a 78-year-old man the same day.

Bennie Williams, 26, has been charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office with the murder earlier on Sunday of Warner Willis.

Willis was found stabbed to death in his bungalow in the 1400 block of Chestnut Street at approximately 9:15 p.m., according to the Oakland Police Department.

Williams was apprehended by police several hours earlier, though authorities initially did not know about the alleged link to the Oakland crime.

According to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats, Williams used a gun Sunday just after 4:45 p.m. to steal a 38-year-old woman’s vehicle at the SeaBreeze market in Berkeley near West Frontage and University Avenue.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Exclusive: Alleged killer says sexual advances toward girlfriend prompted Berkeley homicide

The man police believe was Berkeley's first homicide victim of 2014 lived in this building on Addison Street. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Michael Diggs, the homeless man charged with killing a 54-year-old Berkeley man with a hatchet in late February, told police he snapped after the victim walked naked into the bathroom where Diggs’ girlfriend was showering, then tried to force her to have sex with him.

Police arrested 29-year-old Diggs in early April in connection with the killing of Sylvan Fuselier in Berkeley more than a month before. Police also arrested 41-year-old , Diggs’ girlfriend, in the case. Authorities charged both with the Feb. 22 murder of Fuselier.

The couple has appeared in court this week before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon, who will determine whether there is enough evidence against them for the case to proceed to trial.

Read full Berkeleyside coverage of the case.

During a lengthy interview after his arrest by Berkeley Police, Diggs confessed to killing Fuselier after the older man began acting strange and became insistent about having sex with Sessoms, who repeatedly refused his advances, according to a transcript of Diggs’ confession. … Continue reading »

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Farm Burger brings Southern flair to East Bay scene

Farm Burger did a popup grill serving burgers at the grand opening of Gilman District recently. Photo: courtesy Farm Burger
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Think the East Bay has its fair share of burger restaurants? Think again.

Starting early next month, West Berkeley will welcome the fifth location of Farm Burger, a grass-fed burger franchise from Atlanta, Georgia. Farm Burger will join Philz Coffee, Doughnut Dolly, and Whole Foods in the brand-new Gilman District development at 10th and Gilman.

Farm Burger started with a stroke of luck. Founders George Frangos and Jason Mann originally met when Frangos ran a reference check for one of Mann’s old employees. At the time, Mann was at the helm of the Athens, GA farm-to-table restaurant, Farm 255, and Frangos was managing restaurants in Atlanta, GA and Portsmouth, NH. After meeting, Mann hired Frangos to consult on his restaurant.

“He and I were just sitting around one day looking at the business model for his restaurant and we realized that what really sold were a lot of burgers,” said Frangos. “At one point I thought, ‘We should just open up a grass-fed burger place, raise all the cattle, and call it a day.’ The idea stuck with me.” … Continue reading »

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Bites: Judoku, Daily Pint, Imm Thai, Mollie Rose, more

Bibimbap at Bowl'd, Emeryville. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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DRUNKEN FISH OUT, JUDOKU IN The team behind popular Korean restaurants Spoon and Bowl’d has a new enterprise coming to North Oakland. Chi Moon and Jessica Oh — who have two Bowl’d locations in the East Bay, in Albany and Oakland, as well as Spoon in Berkeley — are opening a new restaurant in Oakland called Judoku Sushi. [Note: Moon and Oh are using the company name of Jechi, and gave Berkeleyside the actual name of the new restaurant — Judoku — on Friday afternoon. Oh also said, via email, that Judoku means “addict” in Japanese.] The new venture is set to take the place of Drunken Fish on Piedmont at Broadway. Sushi spot Drunken Fish had quite a long run, but served its last meal Sept. 26, according to a reviewer on Yelp. No word yet on when Judoku will open or exactly what diners can expect to find, but stay tuned for details. The business does have an on-sale beer and wine license pending with the state — as well as a temporary permit already issued, which may bode well for a prompt opening. Judoku is set to be located at 3314 Piedmont Ave. in Oakland. 

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New beer garden, retail planned on Spenger’s block

An artist's rendering of "Fourth & Spenger" at 1901 Fourth St. Image: Abrams/Millikan
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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 »

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Catahoula ‘Kaffeegarten’ hits West Berkeley

Catahoula is working on its new West Berkeley location. Photo: Catahoula
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Coffee lovers rejoice: The old Sketch soft serve spot on Berkeley’s Fourth Street is now Catahoula’s Kaffeegarten.

The Richmond-based artisanal roaster is all about “high end coffee at a moderate price,” but takes its mission further: “We are about bringing people together and community. Not the ‘Third Community’ liquid culture of Starbucks, but an authentically local flavor where people from all walks of life… gather.”

Timber Manhart runs the business, and sells signature blends as well as single origin beans. He describes Catahoula as a “no char zone,” meaning roasts meant to draw out flavor are king. … Continue reading »

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Local business

Bayer HealthCare may expand in West Berkeley

Bayer HealthCare. Image: Flad Architects
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Bayer HealthCare won unanimous approval Thursday from the city of Berkeley’s zoning board to make significant changes at its West Berkeley campus, on Grayson Street, to prepare it to manufacture a new generation of the company’s recombinant DNA treatments for hemophilia.

Bayer spokeswoman Trina Ostrander said in May that the new 3-story facility would house testing operations — on an existing parking area and empty lot — “for various raw materials and final product” related to the treatments.

Berkeleyside wrote about the project, at 801 Grayson St., west of Seventh Street, in May. The project was approved as part of the consent calendar before the Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday evening. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Alcohol-free bar set for Berkeley (say what?)

Kava. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Openings, closings…

BERKELEY’S FIRST ALCOHOL-FREE BAR? Nosh has the scoop about a business that hopes to be Berkeley’s “first and only alcohol-alternative bar.” It’s called MeloMelo Kava Bar and is aiming to open on University Avenue at McGee. The owner is Berkeley resident Nicolas Rivard, according to a permit application posted on the city of Berkeley website. Rivard says in the application that “We will be serving Kava, tea, and kombucha in a relaxed, yet enticing, setting.” For those not in the know, kava is a Polynesian plant, the roots of which are “used to produce a drink with sedative and anesthetic properties,” says Wikipedia. The business is seeking a parking waiver for two spots, given its proximity to transit, bike-friendly features (vertical wall-mounted bike racks), and an employee bus pass program. Writes Rivard, “Although we anticipate this to be a wild success, being the first and only Kava bar location in the Bay Area, we will ensure that the impact on the convenience for the community will be kept to a minimum.” The business does not plan to serve food “or any coffee bean related products.” MeloMelo has asked for operating hours of noon to midnight seven days a week, has proposed seating for 27 in the 1,200-square-foot space, and expects to have three employees. According to a brief business profile on gust.com, Andrew Procyk is a co-owner, and Anneliese Valery is the manager. The trio says MeloMelo will “provide an alternative to coffee houses and alcohol bars. We aspire to nothing less than changing the way Americans work — and how they spend their leisure hours in more productive and healthy ways.” MeloMelo Kava Bar hopes to open at 1701 University Ave. in Berkeley. Update, Sept. 12: Learn more about MeloMelo on its website.Continue reading »

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Ruby Livingdesign opens on Berkeley’s Fourth Street

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The former Restoration Hardware store on Fourth Street in Berkeley is reopening next week as Ruby Livingdesign, a modern furniture and design store that has three other locations: in San Francisco, Mill Valley and Menlo Park.

The new store will be open Monday, Sept. 1, from noon to 5 p.m. and will serve bubbly all day to celebrate its arrival in Berkeley. It will also have special opening-day deals.

Ruby Livingdesign was founded 10 years ago by Dee Dee and James Littrell. The store stocks high-end lines, such as Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Hickory Chair Furniture,and Environment Furniture. It also offers custom furniture design services.

The 6,000-square-foot store has been remodeled to incorporate galleries with complete room vignettes, according to a statement released by the store. The shop will also feature the work of local artists in its room set-ups. The work of Berkeley-based glass artist Erik Eiserling will be on view in the store when it opens. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley mother, daughter charged with physical and financial abuse of elderly relative

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A Berkeley mother and daughter are facing two felony counts in Alameda County Superior Court after authorities say, over the course of three years, they stole from a nearly 80-year-old relative to pay their bills, and almost killed the woman by failing to keep up with her health needs.

Renee Jackson, 54, and her 25-year-old daughter Chanay Jackson were charged last week by the Alameda County district attorney’s office with elder abuse that endangered the health of Erma Jean Jackson, Renee’s mother, and theft and embezzlement from an elder or dependent adult exceeding $950. Authorities said the abuse took place between August 2011 and August 2014.

According to court papers, Renee Jackson, a phone operator, was her mother’s official caregiver, while Chanay was in charge of her grandmother’s finances. Both women had access to Erma Jean’s checking account.

The case initially came to the attention of authorities when Adult Protective Services began to receive reports of physical and financial abuse or neglect, Berkeley Police Detective Alexander McDougall wrote in court documents. As of December 2012, there had been at least five reports involving the family. … Continue reading »

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