Trader Joe’s, Pacific Steel Casting on Crowded ZAB Agenda

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday May 09, 2006

The dense, five-story project at University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way that Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) member Bob Allen dubbed “the Trader Joe’s Building” is back on ZAB’s agenda Thursday night. 

Developers Chris Hudson and Evan McDonald want to build 156 apartments above a ground-floor level that includes commercial space they say has been leased to the popular German-owned grocery chain—provided the building gets built by 2009. 

The project would replace a small strip mall that currently houses a Kragen Auto Parts shop. 

The building drew a large turnout when ZAB looked at plans two weeks ago, with supporters who were ecstatic about the prospect of having a TJ’s closer at hand than the existing ones in Emeryville and El Cerrito, and project neighbors who complained that the building overshadowed their homes on Berkeley Way on the northern edge of the project. 

Two ZAB members compared the plans to the notorious public housing “projects” now being demolished on the East Coast, while the developers—backed by city staff—said they could build an even bigger project using plans ZAB member Allen said reminded him of a prison. 

Both sets of plans were the creations of Kirk Peterson, architect of record for the Gaia and Bachenheimer buildings as well as other projects the principals in Hudson McDonald, LLC, built for developer Patrick Kennedy. 

The project is on the agenda for more comments. 

Another item recommended for approval would allow a Quizno’s sandwich shop to open in the new Southside Lofts project at 3095 Telegraph Ave. 

Other items on the agenda include: 

• Approval of a modified use permit to allow installation of a carbon-based air filtration system at Pacific Steel Casting Co., the result of the settlement between the company and neighbors who have complained for years over odors emanating from the plant, 

• Approval of a use permit to open a new tattoo and piercing studio at 2599 Telegraph Ave. The applicants are Mark Freitas and Howard Flavey of Dark Sun Tattoo Company in Vacaville. 

• An application by Kofo Domingo of Losia, Inc., of Richmond to open a new 3.387-square-foot restaurant with alcohol service at 1719-1725 University Ave. 

• An application by Mary Bull-Ransom of Oakland to issue a use permit to build a 525-square-foot accessory building at a home at 1617 Seventh St. 

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers in the Maudelle Shirek Building (Old City Hall) at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way..