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Council Poised to Reduce Berkeley's Industrial Zone for Whole Foods

Part of Berkeley's industrial zone would become commercial under a proposal before the City Council for a new Whole Foods Market on Gilman Street.

Map showing proposed location of new Whole Foods Market on Gilman Street in Berkeley, with relocation of Office Depot and rezoning of industrial area to commercial. Source: City staff report for Dec. 17, 2013 City Council meeting
Map showing proposed location of new Whole Foods Market on Gilman Street in Berkeley, with relocation of Office Depot and rezoning of industrial area to commercial. Source: City staff report for Dec. 17, 2013 City Council meeting
The proposal to add a Whole Foods Market to Gilman Street in Berkeley has one major hurdle yet to cross.

It requires a vote by the City Council to expand the city's commercial area and further shrink the industrial zone, a change that would be consistent with Berkeley's evolution over the past half century. The necessary amendment to the General Plan and the required rezoning are on the agenda for the next council meeting, on Dec. 17.

The change would allow Whole Foods to occupy the large industrial-zoned parcel now occupied by Office Depot between Ninth and Tenth streets on the north side of Gilman, while Office Depot would hop across the street to the south side of Gilman.

The lot proposed for the relocation of Office Depot is currently divided between commercial and industrial zoning, and would become completely commercial under the change.

The staff report on the item notes that both parcels have been used as commercial properties "for a substantial number of years" and that the rezoning would be "well integrated into the surrounding area because the C-W (commercial) district would act as a buffer between the residential R-2 district and the noise and other externalities of the MU-LI (industrial) district."

A public hearing will held before the council takes action on the item.

The proposal was extensively reviewed by the Planning Commission and finally submitted to the council on a 5-4 vote on Oct. 2.

Whole Foods had originally planned to build a new market at University Village in Albany as a part of a UC Berkeley commercial development but pulled out last year following long delays and legal opposition.

Berkeley – whose chief employer has long been UC Berkeley – has never been mainly an industrial city, though it once had a substantial industrial sector in the west part of the city that has been in decline for many decades. 


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