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Corporation Yard area to stay intact

By Devona Walker, Daily Planet Staff
Friday July 05, 2002

The Landmark Preservation Commission on Monday gave landmark status to the Corporation Yard and the Radcliffe building, effectively stopping the city from demolishing the building and redeveloping the area. 

This may be the last battle for some centralwest Berkeley residents who have been fighting to preserve this belt of green space. One resident, in fact, says he’s battled the city for more than a decade to have the Corporation Yard removed. 

LA Wood foresees the landmarking phase as, in a sense, the beginning of yet another battle: attaining more green space. 

Berkeley has outgrown the Radcliffe building and would need to demolish and replace it to accommodate the growing number of municipal employees. 

Consequently, landmarking the building and much of the site may force the city’s hand, and in turn it could choose to relocate the Corporation Yard. The Department of Public Works director has in the past said that the Corporation Yard is not in the best location, but that the city can simply not afford to purchase additional land. 

In the end, Wood says he hopes it will turn the yard into a park. 

“The scheme was the district should have two-acres per thousand, and it doesn’t,” Wood says.  

“In other words, this area has somewhat less green space than what you might see in other areas of the city,” he said about District 2 where the corporation yard is located. “So it’s only natural that part of this courtyard return to being some sort of park. It probably should happened in the ’80’s but our priorities were different.”  

The Corporation Yard is saddled between Strawberry Creek Park and the city of Berkeley Lawn Bowling Greens. 

“Historically, if you look back at public documents, they have been saying move the yard. It is the largest nonconforming land use in Berkeley,” Wood said. “It could have been moved years ago but there was never a champion on Council and they’ve never looked at the corporation yard and how nonconforming it is, and how it impacts the surrounding neighborhood.” 

“Now there is an opportunity for a park to happen,” Woods added. 

Woods and others, however, concede that in the current climate of the city that some of the Corporation Yard may have to go to other uses. 

Woods, in fact, has been campaigning to get Building Opportunities for Self-sufficiency (BOSS) to develop on part of the site. The nonprofit is currently trying to build near the Harrison Playfields.