Parimal “Perry” Patel of Palo Alto-based BPR Properties told DAPAC Monday about a plan to renovate the Shattuck Hotel and expand the building to house 320 rooms, part of which involves the construction of a new tower at the rear end of the historic building.
Patel did not provide any specifics for the dimensions of the tower, apart from the fact that the tower would be 16 stories high with 150 new hotel rooms and maybe even condos.
The hotel, at 2086 Allston Way, is in the process of modernizing its rooms, after which owners plan to begin the construction of the tower. Patel said he had recently applied for city permits for the construction, though no commission has yet seen his plans. Since the proposed height of the addition exceeds current downtown zoning and violates Berkeley’s General Plan, it would require variances from the Zoning Adjustment Board. Changes to the exterior of the building, a designated historic resource, would have to be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
“We are not touching the outside of the building until we go before the Landmarks Preservation Commission,” said Robert Richmond of R2L Architects, the firm hired by BPR Properties to work on the proposed project. “We have not prepared any extensive drawings or conducted any studies on the massing yet. The height has been determined from the financial standpoint and not from the aesthetic standpoint. The majority of the tower will be behind the existing hotel building on Shattuck. This will soften the impact a tower would have on downtown.”
In a letter to Dan Marks, Berkeley’s director of planning and development, Patel explained the reasoning behind the hotel’s proposed larger rooms.
“In order to qualify for ranking as a ‘four star’ hotel and affiliation with a national hotel chain, we need somewhat larger rooms than can be accommodated in the historic building, even though we are merging substandard rooms and reducing the room count there from 220 to 172,” his letter said.
“With the tower, a total hotel room count in the range of 320-plus will allow us to host larger events and make our hotel a major destination. A national hotel ‘brand’ and reservation system is necessary to get us the occupancy and room rates needed to make the project a success and justify the large expense we have already undertaken to renovate the historic building.”
Patel stressed what he thought was the need for more meeting space in the city and his desire to work with the university to expand conference areas.
“A lot of business is going to the Claremont Hotel, Doubletree or Emeryville right now,” he said. “We’d like to keep all the conferences in the downtown area.”
DAPAC member Rob Wrenn asked if any market analysis had been done to show if Berkeley could support two hotels downtown. UC Berkeley is planning a 19-story hotel and conference center a few blocks away on the corner of Oxford and Center streets.
Other concerns among DAPAC members for the Shattuck Hotel were related to parking and labor issues.
Patel said he was also considering plans to build a parking structure downtown and valet services to meet parking demands.
Long-term residents of the hotel have currently filed a petition with the Rent Board alleging that the owners are trying to force them out.
The hotel is scheduled to reopen in spring of 2008.