Dental/Retail Plan on Solano Heads to Planning Commission

A proposal to knock down a prominently located house on Solano Avenue on the Albany-Berkeley border and replace it with a two-story dental-retail complex is scheduled to go before the Albany Planning Commission this week.

The Albany Planning & Zoning Commission this week will consider a developer's proposal to demolish a house on a highly visible Solano Avenue corner on the Albany-Berkeley border and replace it with a two-story complex containing dental offices and retail space.

The existing house at 1600 Solano Ave. sits on the southest corner of Solano and Ordway Street, along one of busiest commercial stretches of Solano. The house sits in Albany, while the other side of Solano, on the north, is in Berkeley.

The zoning application, from Kava Massih Architects for PL & DK Properties LLC, proposes to erect a 6,200-square-foot commercial building, with approximately 4,000 square feet of dental office space, plus 1,200 square feet of ground-floor retail space, according to a city staff report prepared for the Albany Traffic and Safety Commission's Feb. 28 meeting. The report is attached to this article.

The building would contain an orthodonic dental practice that would relocate from its current location several blocks east on Ensenada in Berkeley, the staff report says.

"The proposed application is consistent with the City’s overall goals of revitalizing Solano Avenue and providing services for local residents," the report says. "In addition, the urban design of the proposed new building is high quality and meets all of the City’s development standards except parking."

The key issue before the Traffic and Safety Commission was the proposal's request to provide 14 parking spaces instead of the 20 off-street spaces required, according to the report.

The report notes that parking demand in that area is relatively high already.

"Parking surveys have confirmed occupancy rates are higher than most other portions of Albany’s business district," the report says. "Specifically, in 2010, a parking survey found that 79% of on-street parking was occupied. In 2013, between 82% and 87% were found to be occupied."

Possible remedies discussed at a Planning Commission airing on the proposal Feb. 13 included adoption of residential parking permits, a drop-off zone in front of the building and curb bulb-outs at the intersection, the report says.

The Planning Commission will consider the proposal at its next meeting, March 27, at 7 p.m. A report and agenda for the meeting are forthcoming, according to City Planner Anne Hersch.


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Anne Bingham Goess March 31, 2013 at 05:16 PM
I'm not against development on Solano, but I think it's terrible that we don't make an effort to save lovely old buildings like this house, when there are many other boxy, ugly characterless buildings on Solano that would be better candidates for replacement.
Anne Bingham Goess March 31, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Sheri Spellwoman April 02, 2013 at 04:27 PM
I agree with Trevor. Current design is awful. Looks sterile, boxy, clinical, ultra-urban and over-sized for the lot and character of the block. (It doesn't have to look like a hospital.) It needs more depth and character. Please include a planting area on Solano! Maybe build around the tree? At least replace the tree. Some curves would be nice. The design could contain echos of the original house, which is beautiful...
Tom O'Brien April 10, 2013 at 12:19 AM
Hi folks, This project is on the agenda for this week's Planning and Zoning Meeting on April 10th. Full plans are on the agenda page at http://albanyca.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=6&event_id=123 The major change is in the proposed new on-street parking scheme which eliminates the current parking strip and sidewalk on Ordway and replaces them with angled parking and a diverted sidewalk that runs immediately adjacent to the building (and parking garage). http://albanyca.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=6&event_id=123&meta_id=64252
Brandon Loveland April 11, 2013 at 04:20 PM
The best thing about this lot is the beautiful old tree. It's a shame that it will have to be torn down. Also, those wrap-around steps seem unnecessary. I agree that there could be a generous planting area on the Solano side.


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