Zoning Board to Vote on Downtown Teen Center

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday July 09, 2009 - 09:41:00 AM

Almost two years after PG&E handed over their former service center at 2111 Martin Luther King Jr. Way to the Berkeley-Albany YMCA, the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments will vote Thursday on whether to turn it into a teen center. 

Located right across from Civic Center Park and within walking distance of Berkeley High School, the two-story, 8,000-square-foot building dedication to YMCA was PG&E’s largest corporate contribution to date.  

A PG&E press release shows the building’s value to be $2.1 million. 

PG&E and YMCA have asked the zoning board to approve a 3,794-square-foot addition on the third floor and smaller additions of around 400 square feet on the first and second floors. 

The proposed project would change the use of the building to a teen center and administrative offices for the Berkeley-Albany YMCA, currently located at 2070 Allston. 

The building will be LEED certified and feature green elements, including solar panels, on-site recycling and rain water retention. 

YMCA hopes the new teen center will attract youth from all over Berkeley, including those who are homeless. 

A staff report from city planning staff notes that the teen center will be compatible with the Civic Center District because the Downtown Plan, adopted in 1990, calls for a youth center downtown, identifying the Civic Center area as a perfect location. 

The city will not lose property taxes from the transfer to the non-profit YMCA because PG&E is exempt from paying property taxes. 

The YMCA, which currently has less than 400 square feet of permanent space in downtown Berkeley for teen programs, has plans to double the number of participants in programs such as Y-Scholars, The Outsiders Club and YMCA Youth and Government, which address issues such as college preparation, employment and leadership development.