What’s going on here? The end of the year is supposed to be a slow news time, but this week was anything but. First came the news on Monday that the Nasser family plans to build a 12-story high apartment complex on the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Berkeley Way, on land their family has held since the 1950s. If approved, it will be one of the five towers allowed in the city’s new Downtown Area Plan.
In other building/real estate news, the spanking new $7.5 million new branch library opened its doors on Saturday, completing the five-year long, $26 million refurbishment of Berkeley’s four branch libraries. And the massive project came in under budget, too. The Zoning Adjustments Board approved a new 100-seat restaurant at 2635 Ashby Avenue near College, in a property that has sat vacant for a long time. ZAB approved the project even though the new eatery, which will be developed by the people behind the popular Comal, exceeds the Elmwood’s restaurant quota.
And the City Council approved plans to demolish the Center Street garage, replacing the 420-space structure with one that can hold 690 cars. Berkeley officials are hoping that the University of California, the YMCA, and Berkeley City College will chip in funds to build out the garage.
One of the most read stories this week was the one about the woman who allegedly stole $19,000 worth of cosmetics from MAC beauty store on Fourth Street. But for a really chilling read, take a look at Emilie Raguso’s story on the preliminary hearing of the man accused of shooting up Ashkenaz in March. The accused and an unnamed and unarrested accomplice started their evening by stealing purses from a group of women in Oakland, sexually assaulting one with a gun, and then going to the performance space where they allegedly shot and grievously wounded two Ashkenaz employees and made off with a bag of money. It is a grim tale, indeed.
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