Safeway as seen from Shattuck

Safeway’s new designs for a remodeled store on Shattuck Avenue will make the grocery store an integral part of the lively Gourmet Ghetto.

The new plans, which were unveiled July 26, call for outdoor benches and café seating along Shattuck Avenue, as well as the installation of large windows that will allow pedestrians to see inside the store.

“Today’s design is a vast improvement over the current store — both inside and out,” Elisabeth Jewell, Safeway’s community and government affairs consultant wrote in a letter to neighbors. “Great care was taken to bring the store out to Shattuck, enliven the corner with chairs and tables and attractive benches, provide vistas into the store by adding lots of glass, and modernize the exterior using concrete, composite wood, quartzite tile and glazed aluminum.  We responded to many concerns brought to us by neighbors including retaining more trees, increasing bicycle and pedestrian safety, enclosing the loading dock, relocating mechanical equipment, and eliminating outside dumpsters and recycling.

The new design features a revamped parking lot with designated pedestrian paths shaded by a new canopy of trees.  A ramp from the surface lot leads to underground parking which will be light and bright and have easy access to the store.   The landscaping plan calls for saving most of the healthy mature trees, while adding thirty new trees, along with drought tolerant shrubs, bay friendly groundcovers, and climbing vines that cover walls facing Henry Street and deter graffiti.  Native grasses and plants on the Henry Street side serve as a bioswale, filtering groundwater run-off before it empties into stormwater drains.  The remodeled building will be far more energy efficient and is expected to be LEED compliant.”

Cafe seating along Shattuck Avenue

The changes came after Safeway showed its plans at a community meeting in December at the Jewish Community Center. Participants at that meeting, including Councilman Laurie Capitelli and members of the North Shattuck Merchants’ Association, advocated for a more urban, pedestrian-oriented plan. They were concerned that the store would present a blank wall on Shattuck, which would cut off the community.

Since then, Safeway has held four meetings with Berkeley’s Design Review Commission, and has incorporated their suggestions.

The Zoning Adjustments Board will hold a hearing on the revamped plan on Aug. 12.

aerial view of Safeway

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...