Emunah Hauser writes:

The Shattuck Safeway community meeting Monday night at the East Bay JCC on Walnut Street was low-key. Visualizations of the latest plan were displayed around the room. Safeway representatives were available for questions, comments and conversation.

The plan will be submitted to the city by the end of the week.

Lowney Architecture
Lowney Architecture

The current plan includes:

  • 17,000 sq ft expansion. Current store is 28,000 sq ft. Proposed plan is for the store to be 46,147 sq ft in total.
  • No housing or additional retail.
  • New access lobbies to the existing garage.
  • Entrances are currently facing parking lot.
  • Native species landscaping.
  • 10 ft landscaped setback from Henry Street neighbors.

Berkeley City Council member Laurie Capitelli and some members of the North Shattuck Association advocated for more urban, pedestrian-oriented design. They asked that the Cafe/Deli entrance face onto Shattuck, and underscored the importance of Safeway becoming more a part of the lively, walkable North Shattuck commercial district beginning at Rose and Shattuck, rather than walled off and facing away. Design to encourage walking and biking patrons was an oft-repeated community value Monday night.

The Cafe/Deli is to be located in the Northeast corner of the building. Currently, the plan is for the entrance and outdoor seating to face the parking lot.

Safeway representatives seemed receptive to rethinking the Shattuck-facing stretch with this in mind. Security is a challenge to a Shattuck-facing entrance — managing security is much easier with all entrances facing one direction.

Transparent glass windows along the Shattuck-facing East wall are already included in the plan with the concept of making the store more inviting to pedestrians approaching the store from the South. Capitelli and others voiced their support for this design feature.

The current plan allows for the store to remain open throughout renovations.

Emunah Hauser is a publicist and writer for sustainability and community. You might also know her as a host at Saul’s Restaurant and Deli, or have seen her busking at Berkeley Farmer’s Markets. She feels very fortunate to live in a mixed-use building near public transit in Berkeley.

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Freelance writers with story pitches can email editors@berkeleyside.com.

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  1. “detract from the Pedestrian-friendly feel of Shattuck Avenue”?

    I don’t see how that’s possible on this side of Shattuck, that’s for sure – foot traffic is a fraction of a fraction of what it is just a few blocks over – a new store would likely improve, not reduce foot traffic – right now there’s a commercial dead zone between the Cheeseboard and the existing Safeway

  2. I should have mentioned: Previous design proposals included housing and a more urban design, with entrances facing Shattuck.

    Many community members who attended the meeting expressed great disappointment over the loss of these features. They felt it was a lost opportunity to bring community benefits to the neighborhood. That this design promotes cars and parking at the expense of housing, walking and local business.

  3. The “new” North Shattuck Safeway is a triumph for all the Berkeley “progressives” who are steadfastly fighting change at every turn. It’s a complete abomination. It belongs in a sprawling suburb, not in a city that prides itself on environmental awareness and sophistication. It would do Concord proud–but not Berkeley.

    The cowardly cave-in to neighborhood resistance to density and new housing is disgusting.

    Hey, why not just tear the store down and build a multi-level parking structure? That could be a real Berkeley trend-setter!

  4. The Safeway site would be a perfect place for housing for Berkeley’s “empty nesters” who want to down-size and live in a walkable neighborhood. There’s lots of these folks in Berkeley, but they have no such housing options if they want to stay here. North Shattuck is cited as Berkeley’s most vibrant neighborhood, but as long as large areas are given over to parking (Safeway, CVS parking lot, parking lane from Vine to Rose) rather than people-oriented uses like housing and public spaces, North Shattuck will continue be largely a car-oriented neighborhood where local, independent businesses are struggling without sufficient foot traffic to support them, and people sit in the traffic median to eat pizza.

    I agree that Safeway should wait on these improvements until the tide toward development turns in Berkeley and people finally understand that protesting all and any change is not a recipe for a vibrant, interesting city that serves the needs of its citizens.

  5. I fully agree with urbaneye’s outrage with our neighbors. Safeway had come up with an excellent plan which would have greatly improved the neighborhood — the supermarket and several new retail stores facing onto Shattuck, elimination of the ugly and dangerous-to-pedestrians surface parking lot, etc.

    Unfortunately, a small group of neighbors scared Safeway off the plan — and did so with language that made it sound like area residents unanimously rejected the plan. When I asked those people to stop speaking in my name, I was basically ignored.

    So what we will get is a newer, somewhat more spacious version of what we have now, certainly not a total loss. But clearly a missed opportunity. What a shame.

  6. An abomination. It’s a shame to see Safeway propose this last-decade deformation; they are a company with a young-but-strong history of enabling good urbanism (see: Seattle, Portland, SF). Fortunately for Safeway’s reputation, this failure will likely be assigned to the vocal ex-hippies-nimbies, and maybe to a lesser extent, this economy. Only a small fraction of blame should fall on Safeway and its architect. I’m not surprised they produced this crap, though, given the frantically militant verbal gunfire they have had to digest after every public forum on this project over the last year-plus.

    Save your money, Safeway, and forego the renovation. Spend it elsewhere, in a neighborhood that respects the positive change you offer. Berkeley’s youthful and progressive urbanites will probably end up in that “other” place soon enough, after they get sick of our fascist geriatrics.

    Except, maybe, donate the portion of your construction budget which you proposed to spend on your north-façade outdoor seating (read: shaded, and therefore unoccupied) to Bel Forno, Juice Bar, or the North Shattuck Plaza effort. They still have a chance to enhance the neighborhood being a non-corporate and homegrown efforts; and you might get some naming rights out of it, too.