The design for a mixed-use project at 2501 Haste St. Image: Kirk E. Peterson & Associates

A six-story, mixed-use, Moorish, palace-like structure inspired by Italian hill towns is one step closer to being built on Berkeley’s iconic Telegraph Avenue after the project sailed through a review by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board last week.

ZAB commissioners were generally receptive to the building’s unusual design, according to Commissioner Steven Donaldson.

Addressing the architect of the project, Kirk E. Peterson, ZAB Commissioner Shoshana O’Keefe said she approved of the design. “It’s weird and I like that,” she said. O’Keefe said she grew up in Berkeley, had always appreciated the “weirdness” of Telegraph Avenue, and that it was good to see something unusual, “a little different,” proposed for the area.

The vision for the vacant lot at 2501 Haste St. on the corner of Telegraph Avenue is that of the property’s owner Ken Sarachan who is on a deadline to build something on the lot that has been vacant, and a blight on the neighborhood, for more than 20 years. (He has said Tibetan forts and the rock-cut architecture of Petra in Jordan were also inspirations for the project, which will have a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments as well as retail space.)

In October, the city and Sarachan reached a settlement under which Berkeley agreed to drop a lawsuit to force the property owner to pay $640,000 in liens or have the city sell the lot at auction. In exchange Sarachan had 45 days to move his proposal forward through the approval process.

The project — details of which can be read on the ZAB section of the city’s website — will now go before the city’s Design Review which is next meeting Jan. 16.

Read more about the property’s history on Berkeleyside. Read more about development projects in Berkeley.

Berkeley settles case with owner of blighted Telegraph Avenue lot (10.3.13)
Telegraph Avenue property owner shows plan for vacant site (04.19.12)
Can Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue get its mojo back? (04.18.12)
Imagining a future for Telegraph Avenue without blinders (04.11.12)
Telegraph fire site owner plans for temporary resurrection (02.06.12)
Urban think tank: Student visions for blighted Telegraph lot (10.03.11)
City hands ultimatum to Sarachan on vacant Telegraph lot (09.07.11)
What about that vacant lot on Haste and Telegraph? (08.11.11)
Berkeley students want better stores, fewer street people (05.31.11)
City says it is addressing Telegraph Avenue rats problem (02.10.11)
The rats of Telegraph Avenue (video) (01.28.11)

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...