February 24, 2014

Forward Progress For Proposed Moorish Fortress Hits A Wall


The plans for "El Jardin," the six-story Moorish fortress proposed to rise on the long vacant Berkeley lot at the corner of Haste and Telegraph Avenue are once again slated for a public hearing this Thursday.

Berkeley’s Design Review Committee (DRC) provided comments on the proposed development eight months ago and requested that the applicant "look more carefully" at how the project would work with Telegraph Avenue in general and interface with its adjacent parcels.

"On January 22, 2014, staff again requested that the applicant submit revised drawings to respond to the comments offered by the DRC in June 2013, and requested that these materials be submitted by January 31 to allow time for staff to prepare a staff report to the DRC. To date, the applicant has not presented a revised design to respond to the comments offered by the DRC."

In addition, multiple requests from Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board staff for additional information needed to evaluate a necessary density bonus for the project as proposed appear to have fallen on deaf ears and the information has yet to be provided.

Four months ago, the parcel's owner, Ken Sarachan, had agreed to move forward with plans to develop the lot within 45 days or risk forfeiture of the land.

First Published: February 24, 2014 8:00 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers


Posted by: Sam at February 24, 2014 9:55 AM

The least surprising news imaginable.

Posted by: woolie at February 24, 2014 10:08 AM

Once a building's plan meet code (specified height, setback, window spacing, bay window-age, etc.), how is "design review" even constitutional? Would love to see this denied based solely on "design" and see what a court outside the People's Republic has to say about public agency "design review".

[Editor's Note: As noted above, the plans aren't code compliant and the project will need a density bonus, in addition to waivers for height, to proceed as proposed.]

Posted by: Sierrajeff at February 24, 2014 10:44 AM

The building design is def over the top but I would overlook that in order to get something built on this lot. It has been a hole in the ground for over 20 years now.

Posted by: Sassy at February 24, 2014 11:01 AM

Historistic, a contemporary take on 19th century revivalism.
Great. Build it!

Posted by: conifer at February 24, 2014 11:22 AM

RU [kidding] me? That thing looks hideous. Would never fly in SF; NIMBY's would have a field day and for once I'd agree with them.

Posted by: poor.ass.millionaire at February 24, 2014 12:59 PM

I walked by that lot yesterday wondering how this design could fit the relatively small corner lot. Look at the drawing and the storefront next to it, those doorways and windows are half the size of the other buildings. It is virtually a dollhouse.

Posted by: CarterT at February 24, 2014 7:25 PM

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