Land Use Update: Safeway, Merrill Gardens, Temescal Apartments, Nautilus, College Ave. Retail

Monday, April 13, 2015

College Avenue Safeway Project, College and Claremont Avenues: RCPC and the community groups that reached a settlement with Safeway over this project submitted a punch list of issues to Safeway and Terramar, the new owner of the retail building, in February. The groups met with Todd Paradis, Safeway's regional real estate manager, and its attorney in mid-March. The meeting was far from harmonious, but RCPC expects Safeway to comply with its settlement obligations and the city's use permit. Some items are major: The electronic parking space availability display doesn't work. This means drivers can't tell if they have space to park on the parking deck, and it means Safeway can't tell how full its lot is, a requirement of the settlement. Another major item is that meters have been installed along Claremont Avenue, but there is no signage to protect the casual carpool area from filling up with parked cars. Of further concern: nobody from Terramar attended the meeting, but they are also bound by the settlement. If you have other concerns, e-mail landuse@rockridge.org.

Merrill Gardens Senior Housing Project - West Side of Broadway, North of 51st Street
Construction of this large senior housing/mixed use project is underway. There may be traffic disruptions on both Broadway and 51st Street as construction proceeds. Find construction schedule details at the SRM Development website: www.srmdevelopment.com/rockridge. If you have construction work concerns, find developer phone numbers on that website, or e-mail RCPC at landuse@rockridge.org.

Temescal Condominium Project, Broadway (West Side) South of 51st Street
SRM is also doing this large condominium project just south of 51st Street. These projects mark the first effects in Rockridge of the citywide rezoning approved in 2012, which in turn implements the General Plan adopted in 1999. We can expect more and larger development projects along both Broadway and Telegraph Avenue. This project was given final Planning Commission approval in March. Unless appealed, work leading up to demolition and construction will begin soon, and actual on-the-ground work is probably six months away.

Rockridge Shopping Center - Broadway (East Side) North of Pleasant Valley
Like the College Avenue Safeway retail building, this project was sold by Safeway to Terramar, a southern California shopping center development/management company. The management transition is apparently taking some time. As a consequence, the project's initiation has been slowed. Latest word: demolition of the CVS building and construction of the new Safeway store will not begin until late spring or summer of this year. There is a skeletal website for project information: www.theshopsattheridge.com/.

Nautilus Mixed Use Project - East Side of Telegraph Avenue Between 51st Street and Claremont Avenue
This is another proposed large project on the Rockridge border, and also part of the city's "densification" strategy on major transit corridors. It is the successor to two large projects, Civiq and Creekside, that were approved but never built. It proposes a fairly large rental housing component plus a retail component including a grocery store. The Nautilus Group, developer, will present an update on its proposal at RCPC's April Town Hall meeting. See the article beginning on the front page for more details.

College Avenue Retail Zoning Working Group
As previously reported, the city has agreed to have RCPC initiate a study of some potential changes to the city's CN-1 commercial zoning, which governs College Avenue and other neighborhood commercial areas such as Piedmont Avenue and Montclair Village. A main focus will be to look at whether the city should establish guidelines for "extinguishing" a use permit when a use terminates or is replaced by a different use. Other related use permit issues may also be considered. We will involve groups in affected parts of the city and expect to complete the study and make recommendations to the city by year's end. If you are interested in participating, e-mail to landuse@rockridge.org.