Scenic Streets Update: Davita Landscaping, Donations

DaVita Dialysis Breaks Ground on Long-Promised Landscaping
Sunday, June 9, 2013

Local residents are pleased to see landscaping improvements underway at last at the corner of Claremont Avenue and Clifton Street.

The site of a former supermarket occupied by DaVita Dialysis for the past several years, the corner has been widely regarded as a prominent eyesore near the Rockridge-Temescal Gateway. The renovations were negotiated by local volunteer landscaping group Scenic Streets.

These improvements, estimated to cost over $20,000, are being funded mostly by DaVita. A new ornamental perimeter fence has replaced the nondescript chain link that was beginning to sag. Damaged fencing along the Rockridge-Temescal Greenbelt path has also been mended. And the barren parking lot's most prominent corner will soon feature greenery where remnant signposts and concrete footings once stood. Scenic Streets added nine sidewalk trees at its own expense last month.

Apparently, it was Scenic Streets' landscaping of the adjacent Highway 24 off-ramp spurred DaVita into action. The company had pledged to match the community's efforts at a neighborhood meeting last summer. A company spokesperson then assured a near-capacity crowd of local residents that renovations would follow shortly, but neighbors began to have doubts when months passed without any visible progress.

Monitoring the proposed project, Scenic Streets founder Peter Lund says DaVita needed extra time to provide appropriate documentation to the property's owner, Jim Falaschi of Transbay Holding Company. "DaVita was clear about what neighbors wanted to see improved, but needed to make sure it had approval since it doesn't own the property," Lund explained.

Judy Belcher owns a home adjacent to the facility and says she is encouraged that property is finally on the right path. "I am hopeful they have a plan in place to keep it looking nice," Belcher says, noting that weeds and trash have routinely built up along the parking lot's perimeter for months on end. "We expect DaVita to be a good neighbor and keep its property up to community standards."

In fact, public ordinances require most commercial properties to keep their exteriors tidy, and mandate regular removal of litter from adjoining sidewalks and gutters. These obligations typically fall to lease holders such as DaVita, and a company spokesperson assured Lund that, going forward, weekly perimeter sweeps will be conducted by a hired team. Scenic Streets is also petitioning the Public Works Department to add a sidewalk trash can near the corner to help control litter from pedestrians.

DaVita is expected to wrap up its renovations by the end of June. Scenic Streets will then plant additional shrubs and trees in the surrounding area in the fall.

The volunteer group will then shift its focus to renovating Hardy Park Dog Run if a fundraising goal for that project is achieved.

Donations Support Scenic Streets Projects

Scenic Streets, the local volunteer group that has been landscaping Claremont Avenue near the Highway 24 off-ramp at Clifton Street, received three sizable donations this spring. The timing couldn't be better, as the group prepares for its next phase of work, which includes improving the safety and functionality of dilapidated Hardy Park Dog Run.

An anonymous donor sent a check for $5,000 in February. Oakland real estate developer Jim Falaschi sent a check for $2,500 in April. And in May, Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream pledged $6,000 to upgrade the watering stations at the dog park.

Dreyer's product line includes Frosty Paws frozen dog treats. Many employees and visitors approach its College Avenue headquarters via southern Claremont Avenue, so the company was an early supporter of Scenic Streets' vision. The company hopes more local businesses will join the campaign.

Falaschi is the owner of 5354 Claremont Avenue, the former supermarket site now occupied by DaVita Dialysis Corporation of Denver. He recently permitted Scenic Streets and its partner, Urban Releaf, to plant nine sidewalk trees around the property and has been working with tenant DaVita to approve its own proposed landscaping renovations which are now underway.

"We are deeply grateful to all of our donors," says Scenic Streets founder Peter Lund. "And these very generous contributions put us even closer to beginning our most ambitious improvements yet to the Rockridge-Temescal Gateway."

Scenic Streets still has some fund-raising to do before its next phase of work can begin, but Lund says he is optimistic that funds will be donated, noting that the community has provided the vast majority of the group's funding to date. He reports that many enthusiastic supporters have made two or three contributions via the group's web site - www.scenicstreets.org - which also features detailed plans of coming projects.