San Pablo Condos Top ZAB’s Agenda

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday December 10, 2008 - 07:31:00 PM

Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) members will decide the fate of two buildings on San Pablo Avenue on Thursday. 

The bigger of the two projects is a 98-unit, five-story condo project at the southeast corner of San Pablo and Ashby avenues, while the smaller is the demolition of the nearby building that once housed the late and much-lamented fast-food eatery Twin Castle Express. 

The plans also include 114 parking spaces. 

The condo project is being developed by Ali Kashani and former Berkeley city planning official Mark Rhoades, who have teamed up to form Citycentric Investments. 

Property owner for the site is R.B. Tech Center, a San Francisco-based limited partnership, which purchased the 0.78-acre site from the Podesta Family Trust of Santa Cruz two years ago for $3.42 million. 

Joseph D. Blum, the “B” in the partnership and its legal representative, is president of Rawson, Blum & Leon of San Francisco, a major West Coast infill developer that once did business as Terranomics, Inc. 

The project site at 1200 Ashby is currently a vacant lot. 

The project would include 7,700 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, and the developers are seeking an on-site liquor permit for sale of spirits at a restaurant, which would include up to 2,000 square feet of floor-space, not including the sidewalk seating R.B. is requesting. 

The developers also want permission for commercial tenants to operate their businesses between 6 a.m. and midnight. 

The project would be the second new condo construction in the area. Another recently completed building at 2700 San Pablo was forced into receivership before any units could be sold. That building will be auctioned off next Tuesday on the courthouse steps in Oakland. 

Board members are also scheduled to vote for demolition of the building that once housed Twin Castle Express, a popular and uniquely eclectic fast-food eatery at 3020 San Pablo, catercorner to the southwest from the site of the condo project. 

The property, which has been listed on the market, includes permits that would allow a buyer to build a four-story, 29-unit apartment or condo building, including 1,600 square feet of ground floor commercial space. 

Since the restaurant moved out, the building has been targeted by vandals, and the permit sought by Yerba Buena Builders of San Francisco would allow the company to demolish the building as an attractive nuisance. 

The agenda and a listing of other items scheduled for discussion are available online at http://www.cityofberkeley.info/ WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=30628. 

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers on the second floor of 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.