Telegraph Avenue residents will soon be able to shop for groceries at a new Fred’s Market opening up at the former site of Owl Rexall Drugs.
The Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) voted unanimously Thursday to approve a use permit requested by Fred Ayyad, owner of Fred’s Market at 1929 University Ave., which would allow carry-out food service (no seating) in a new retail food market at 2312 Telegraph Ave.
The site—located half a block south of the UC Berkeley campus—is surrounded by food services such as Mrs. Field’s Cookies, Noah’s Bagels and Yogurt Park, as well as by other retail and multi-unit residential uses.
The property, which houses a two-story commercial building previously occupied by Rexall, is in the process of being demolished to make room for the food market.
“This should be a no brainer,” project applicant Rina Rickles told ZAB Thursday.
“Both local and UC Berkeley police support Mr. Ayyad. I have been reading in the newspaper that businesses on Telegraph are declining. This store will bring students and Berkeley residents to the neighborhood who will not only use Fred’s but also patronize other businesses. It will serve the community and bring visitors back to Telegraph Avenue.”
Representatives of Johnson’s Market, also located on Telegraph, told the board that they had collected 21 signatures opposing the proposed project.
They also alleged that Fred’s Market at University Avenue had violated alcohol laws on several occasions in the past, although the Alcoholic Beverage Control Department later dropped these charges. The current permit does not include an alcohol license.
A group of Berkeley residents turned up at the meeting to support the proposed development.
“I live right around the corner from Fred’s on University,” said Reagan Richardson. “The owners care about the community and about complying with the law. The fact that they are moving up to Telegraph is great.”
Berkeley resident Steve Wollmer described Fred’s as a very positive role model to the community.
Rickles told the board that visitors to the store would be able to buy pre-cooked items such as barbecue chicken, roast beef and falafel at the deli counter, while salads, hot and cold sandwiches, hamburgers and Middle Eastern plates could be ordered for off-site consumption.
“The market would stay open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Mondays through Sundays,” she said. “It would help meet an underserved need for retail food and groceries in the district. It would also incorporate green building elements such as energy-efficient lighting and kitchen equipment.”
Board member Jesse Arreguin spoke in favor of the project.
“One of the things that is sorely missing on Telegraph is a grocery store,” he said. “There is no place to buy fresh produce, groceries or meat for students who live in the dorms or apartments. I am very excited about the prospect. ... This is definitely the kind of business we want on Telegraph Avenue.”
• The board set the appeal of a permit to construct a residential addition at 921 Ensenada Ave. for public hearing.
The applicants had requested a use permit to expand the footprint of the building by 450 square feet, and by constructing a 1,084-square-foot partial second story, setback approximately 15 feet from the front of the house, with an average height of 24 feet.
• The board continued the appeal of a permit for a residential addition to 2008 Virginia St. to June 28.
Lorin Hill of Oakland, the project architect and applicant, had requested the permit to construct a 1,434-square-foot addition, raising the house approximately six feet to create habitable space on the ground level and expanding the building to create a two-story west wing.
A group of neighbors had appealed the permit, voicing concerns that the additional height would block air and light. Staff informed the board that an agreement had been reached with neighbors which would be discussed at the next meeting.