The Village is a smorgasbord of small businesses and restaurants, offering a quiet refuge from Telegraph Ave. Photo: Emily Dugdale

The Berkeley City Council on Tuesday, June 14, rejected an appeal to landmark The Village, the eccentric collection of restaurants and small businesses at 2556 Telegraph Ave. A seven-story mixed-use project is planned for the site. In January, the Landmarks Preservation Commission had denied landmark designation to the two-story The Village, which dated in its current form to 1972.

Public comment on the appeal at the council meeting elicited extreme reactions on both sides.

“It’s a bit of a dump,” said John Caner, CEO, Downtown Berkeley Association, speaking in a personal capacity.

“This is a site and a place of high significance,” said John Mink, one of the appellants on the appeal. “This is a very important cultural, architectural, historic and educational landmark in Berkeley.” 

The Village. Photo: Emily Dugdale
The Village on Telegraph Avenue. Photo: Emily Dugdale

“I never once thought this building was worthy of preservation,” said Garrett Christiansen, who said he used to live nearby. “Adaptive reuse does not per se mean something is historic and worthy of preservation.”

Along with several other speakers, Christiansen said the proposed 76-unit development would provide housing “which is desperately needed.” The developer plans to make 11% of the units affordable.

Steve Finacom challenged several of the council members to think about sites in their own districts. To Councilman Laurie Capitelli, he raised the prospect of a developer tearing down Walnut Square to build housing. To Councilwoman Lori Droste, he speculated about replacing Domingo Avenue with a housing development.

“Just like your neighborhoods, our neighborhood is a neighborhood of places, not just of sites,” he said.

At right: a rendering of a 7-story building proposed on Telegraph to take the place of The Village. Image: Pyatok Architects
A rendering of a seven-story building proposed on Telegraph Avenue to take the place of The Village. Image: Pyatok Architects
A rendering of a seven-story building proposed on Telegraph Avenue to take the place of The Village. Image: Pyatok Architects

“I’m struggling with this one because I’m a housing advocate and we need more housing,” said Councilwoman Linda Maio. “On the other hand, there’s a certain charm about this building that harkens to places that people want to be in. They want to stroll in and discover what’s going on.”

“This building does not rise to the level of a historical landmark,” said Capitelli.

The council rejected the appeal, 5-2, upholding the 7-2 decision of the LPC. Mayor Tom Bates, Capitelli, Droste, Councilwoman Susan Wengraf and Councilman Darryl Moore voted yes; Councilmen Jesse Arreguín and Kriss Worthington voted no; Maio and Councilman Max Anderson abstained.

Telegraph restaurants, shops face uncertain future (07.06.15)
7-story building, no parking, proposed on Telegraph (05.15.15)

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...