The Center Street garage project would demolish the existing structure and build an eight story garage with retail and art display space. Photo: Zoning Adjustments Board project review
The Center Street project would demolish the existing structure to make way for an 8-story garage with retail and art space. Photo: City of Berkeley
The Center Street project would demolish the existing structure to make way for an 8-story garage with retail and art space. Photo: City of Berkeley

The Center Street garage project, which proposes a larger, greener and seismically safer parking structure for downtown Berkeley, is slated for discussion at the upcoming Zoning Adjustments Board meeting this Thursday.

Until construction is complete, the project is likely to cause downtown parking to become more difficult than it already is. Under the current plans, an 8-story parking garage with commercial and arts display spaces on the ground floors would take the place of the existing structure, which would be demolished.

Read more about parking in Berkeley.

The Center Street garage is one of the most heavily used off-street parking areas downtown. It operates “at or near capacity during the daytime on most weekdays, and occasionally reaches capacity during weekday evenings and some weekends,” according to the city.

Discussions about the project have been in the works for two years. Thursday night will be the zoning board’s first chance to “preview” the project. Commissioners will provide comment to the city, but otherwise no action is expected.

A mock-up of the planned exterior of the Center Street garage. The ZAB will be meeting on Thursday to review the project. Image: Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects
A mock-up of the planned exterior of the Center Street garage. Image: Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects

To compensate for the loss of parking during construction, which is expected to take 12-14 months, Addison Street would temporarily be reduced to one-way westbound traffic between Shattuck Avenue and Milvia Street, and would be repainted to allow diagonal parking.

The existing garage was built in 1957 and is not up to par with current seismic safety standards. The building was evaluated in 1992 and determined to be seismically unsafe, but the garage was not retrofitted because a full replacement of the structure was deemed necessary.

True to Berkeley’s environmentally friendly spirit, all new buildings in the downtown area larger than 20,000 square feet are required to have LEED Gold certification or the equivalent. While LEED does not offer certifications for parking structures, the city will pursue an equivalent rating from the Green Garage Certification program.

With an 18-story hotel on Shattuck Avenue and Center Street going through the city’s approval process, and a 1,200-seat performance space planned on University Avenue, the 270 new parking spaces are not the only stabs at making it easier to find parking downtown.

The goBerkeley program, set to end later this year, aimed to alleviate the problem by adjusting rates during peak hours and along heavily used streets, and the planned reconfiguration of Shattuck Avenue is slated to add more diagonal street parking along the eastern span of Shattuck between Center and University.

Thursday night, the zoning board is also slated to discuss a project from local developer Patrick Kennedy, which would receive its use permit if commissioners approve the plans. The project, at 2539 Telegraph Ave, would result in a 70-unit apartment complex with access points at both Telegraph and Regent Street, the street behind the building.

The zoning board meets Thursday at 7 p.m. See the city website for details. Stay tuned to Berkeleyside for continuing coverage.

Eden Teller, a junior at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is a Berkeleyside summer intern. She is majoring in media and cultural studies and minoring in geology.

Neighbors question parking, height of student-oriented housing planned on Telegraph (07.16.14)
Center Street garage slated for demolition, expansion (12.10.13)
City parking garage fees up downtown, down on Telegraph (10.30.13)
Metered parking changes launch Tuesday in Berkeley (10.15.13)
Berkeley council weighs in on parking pilot program (06.12.13)
Parking changes slated for 3 Berkeley business zones (05.23.13)
1,000 new apartments planned for downtown Berkeley (02.07.13)

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Eden Teller is a freelance reporter, writer and amateur gardener. She began reporting for Berkeleyside as an intern in 2013 and continued her career with a B.A. in Media Studies from Macalester College...