Saturday, August 7, 2010

Neighbors Want Housing Atop Shattuck Safeway

By Anneli Star Josselin Rufus
Sat, Aug 7, 2010 at 4:36 PM

The supermarket struggle continues in Gourmet Ghetto.

In her latest missive to North Berkeley residents, received today, consultant Elisabeth Jewel continues to make the case for her client, Safeway, which wants to remain in its Shattuck-and-Rose location after making some improvements, which can be seen in this video at the architect's web site, which makes you feel as if you're circling the sleek new store in a mini-helicopter (or as a hummingbird) on a brilliant blue-skied day.

Some community members oppose Safeway's plan, Jewel points out.

Store officials face their first hearing before Berkeley's Zoning Adjustment Board (ZAB) this coming Thursday night.

"The hearing next week is critical to moving the project forward. We need those of you who want a beautifully expanded store to speak up by coming to the meeting," Jewel writes.

"There will be people at this hearing who will ask the ZAB to deny Safeway's expansion plan. They prefer [that] nothing change at all if Safeway does not put housing on top of the store. It is important to know that the expansion plan will not structurally support the weight of housing. Even without the structural considerations, adding housing would further compound parking shortages, block sunlight, and worsen traffic for the Henry Street neighbors.

"When Safeway started this project several years ago, many options were analyzed, including completely demolishing and rebuilding the store from the ground up. A complete rebuild of the store was the only way
housing could be accomplished. Rebuilding meant closing the store for well over a year, significantly impacting shoppers and also the entire shopping district. Expanding keeps the store open for business during construction and minimizes impacts. Ultimately, after taking all factors into consideration, Safeway was left with only two options: do nothing or perform a much-needed expansion. Based on the company¹s commitment to upgrading aging stores, Safeway chose to pursue the expansion. Please join us to help convince the ZAB that expanding is a better option for Berkeley than doing nothing. ...

"This proposed design will greatly improve the North Shattuck shopping area, create good union jobs, and give shoppers a great-looking store."

The presence of housing upstairs was a key contingency/bargaining chip in the building of a Trader Joe's in Berkeley as well.

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