UC Revises Development Plan at University Village

A newly revised version of the UC Berkeley plan for development next to University Village in Albany returns to Albany's planning commission Wednesday night. The proposed Sprouts Farmers Market has moved, and a public art mural is added.

Rendering by Lowney Architecture of proposed development by UC Berkeley next to University Village in Albany, submitted to the city on June 7, 2013. In the upper right is a proposed Sprouts Farmers Market.
Rendering by Lowney Architecture of proposed development by UC Berkeley next to University Village in Albany, submitted to the city on June 7, 2013. In the upper right is a proposed Sprouts Farmers Market.
The UC Berkeley-sponsored plan for a Sprouts Farmers Market, other retail buildings and senior housing next to University Village in Albany has been reshuffled.

The revised plan will be presented at a study session of the Albany Planning & Zoning Commission on June 12. The same meeting will also consider a proposal by TG Taekwondo to operate an after-school program for youth at the former Andronico's Grocery Store business offices at 1109 Washington Street in Albany.

When the plan was presented to planning commission on May 8, commission members expressed reservations about the proposed location of Sprouts, which was at the back of the parcel with a large parking lot between the front of the grocery and San Pablo Avenue. Such positioning is not consistent with city design standards, which call for retail buildings to be close to the street.

In the revised plans submitted to the city June 7, the proposed Sprouts market has moved and been rotated 90 degrees, with one side now next to San Pablo. The front of the market would face Monroe Street, with three rows of parking in front of the grocery.

UC has proposed to develop 6.3 acres of its property located in two parcels, on both sides of Monroe Street, between San Pablo and the University Village student family housing complex. As proposed by the Oppidan/Portfolio developer team, the lot on the north side of Monroe would contain the Sprouts market and a smaller retail building.

The lot on the south side of Monroe would contain 175 units of senior housing up to 58 feet tall, developed by Belmont Village, and a larger retail complex. 

The revised plans submitted June 7 also described, for the first time, the proposed public art component of the retail project in line with Albany's Public Arts Master Plan.

The Sprouts grocery would feature a public art mural that would wrap around the rear corner of the building that sits next to San Pablo Avenue, according to a staff report prepared for the planning commission. Judging from the architectural renderings submitted in the new plans, most of the mural was be on the back of the building visible to those traveling south along San Pablo toward the project site, while the remaining part of the mural would be on part of the side of the grocery that faces San Pablo.

The sizes of some project components also changed slightly in the revised plans. The Sprouts market shrank a bit to 27,186 square feet from 28,000, and the retail building, which would be located on the same parcel at the northeast corner of San Pablo and Monroe, grew by 58 square feet to 4,258.

The other retail complex, on the other side of Monroe on the same parcel as the senior housing, increased to 13,134 square feet from 12,974.

City documents, including the staff report and the revised developer's plans, can be found on the city's website.

The university's development plan won City Council approval in July after long discussions and plan revisions. The proposed retail anchor at that time was Whole Foods, which later pulled out.

Two lawsuits were filed seeking to block the project as approved. One by Albany Strollers & Rollers and Carbon Neutral Albany was settled last month, and the other, Larsen v. City of Albany, by urban farming advocates was dismissed June 4 by an Alameda County Superior Court judge.

The June 12 planning commission meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall. The TG Taekwondo comes before the UC development plan on the agenda.

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