Zoning Adjustments Board Approves Blood House FEIR

Friday July 04, 2003

The Zoning Adjustments Board last Thursday approved the final environmental impact report (FEIR) for the Durant Street Apartments, removing another hurdle in developer Ruegg & Ellsworth’s efforts to demolish the historic Ellen Blood House in order to construct 44-unit, mixed-use project. 

The next step is getting the permits to demolish the old building—a 19th-century house that was deemed a structure of merit by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1999—and construct the five-story, 31,000-square-foot proposed development. 

Critics of the plan, including preservationists with the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA), have argued that the FEIR did not adequately provide alternatives to demolishing the structure, including a proposal to relocate the house to a site on Berkeley Way. 

In a letter to board chair Lawrence Capitelli, BAHA president Susan Chase said that alternative, which she described as “serious and concrete,” should have been considered in the environmental impact report. Critics have also said that the need for the housing in the Southside area is no longer strong enough to justify a housing project that will require the destruction of a historic building. 

The board will consider whether to issue the permits for the plan at the July 10 meeting.