Land Use Update: Safeway, Merrill Gardens, Rockridge Apartments

Saturday, January 11, 2014

College Avenue Safeway Project, College and Claremont Avenues: Negotiations between Safeway and the three community groups - Rockridge Community Planning Council (RCPC), Friends and Neighbors of College Avenue (FANS), and Berkeleyans for Pedestrian Oriented Development (BPOD) - have continued over Safeway's College Avenue Shopping Center after Safeway made major changes to the project as approved by the city in 2012 and then submitted a building permit application to the city based on the revised drawings in violation of its settlement agreement with the three groups.

Safeway has a construction contract calling for work on the foundation of the supermarket building to begin in early January, and RCPC is hopeful agreement is reached so that construction can begin as scheduled. Construction of the retail shops building is slated to begin in early spring.

Merrill Gardens at Rockridge, West side of Broadway North of 51st Street: SRM development, a Washington-State-based developer, in cooperation with a senior assisted-living project operator, has proposed a mixed-use residential project for this central higher-density site which includes the Broadway frontage of the block from 51st Street to Coronado Street.

The project would be 120 units of market-rate senior rental housing over parking and ground-floor retail. Plans call for the project to step down towards its residential neighbors to the west. They also call for Coronado to be made two-way for a short stretch between Broadway and the project's residential parking entrance, with a barrier blocking traffic from continuing west. The project has been well received by neighbors and is being formally submitted to the city for consideration and approval.

Rockridge Apartments, West side of Broadway South of 51st Street: This project would be 130 units of market-rate residential rental over ground floor retail along Broadway, as in the Merrill Gardens proposal.

This project has had a rockier road, partly because its initial design would have violated the city's recently established height limits for zoning on Broadway. Project proponents have had two meetings with local neighbors. Concerns about its impacts were raised at both meetngs.

While the project is not within RCPC's boundaries, it is close enough to raise concerns about cumulative impacts, as well as concern over the precedent a variance to zoning height limits might set for future Rockridge projects.

Another community meeting has been set for Monday, January 13, 7 p.m., at the Temescal Creek Cohousing Community Room, 322 - 45th Street. Please contact Ryan Leong (ryan@srmdevelopment.com) if you plan to attend.