This decrepit 95-year-old building is a visual reminder not so much of another era, but of what happens when Berkeley preservationists attack. The old neighborhood grocery has been boarded up for more than two decades and is in such bad shape that city building officials feared they would have to condemn it as unsafe.
Fifteen years ago, the property owner (who once ran the grocery store himself) proposed replacing the store with a triplex. Then a member of the landmarks commission swooped in and initiated a landmarks designation on the building. Even a next-door neighbor who was skeptical of the owner's plans questioned the wisdom of designating the old store a landmark.
The commission deemed it a structure of merit anyway, and the owner has let the place steadily deteriorate ever since. To prevent this landmark from collapsing, the back of the building had to be gutted earlier this year and the rest shored up so that the facade wouldn't fall down. The front of the building is now covered in translucent plastic.
Seven Days - February 18, 5:00 PM
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