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UC Plan for Sprouts Market, Senior Housing Faces Key Vote

A public hearing and possible key vote by the Albany planning commission are scheduled Wednesday on a major UC Berkeley commercial development proposal for a Sprouts Farmers Market and 175 units of senior housing next to University Village in Albany.

Oct. 2, 2013 rendering of Sprouts Farmers Market and a retail building by Lowney Architecture of proposed UC Berkeley development next to University Village in Albany. San Pablo Avenue is on the right. Source: City of Albany
Oct. 2, 2013 rendering of Sprouts Farmers Market and a retail building by Lowney Architecture of proposed UC Berkeley development next to University Village in Albany. San Pablo Avenue is on the right. Source: City of Albany
It's been six years and many public meetings since UC submitted a proposal for commercial development of several acres of its property next to UC Berkeley's University Village student-housing complex in Albany.

And now the current version of that proposal – featuring a Sprouts Farmers Market, a 175-unit senior housing complex and two other retail developments on 6.3 acres at San Pablo Avenue at Monroe Street – faces key votes Wednesday night by the Albany Planning & Zoning Commission.

The item, which includes a public hearing, was carried over from the Nov. 20 commission meeting. Up for action are approval of the tentative parcel maps and approval of design review.

The meeting, at Albany City Hall, will start earlier than usual at 6 p.m. to accommodate a large agenda. The UC plan is the first item on the agenda, which includes multiple attachments that can be viewed on the city's website.

The proposed Sprouts market has generated the most controversy, including a "Boycott Sprouts" campaign supported by Occupy the Farm. Opponents want the now vacant property to be used for a community farm, which they say is consistent with the property's use as "historic farmland."

Albany City Councilman Michael Barnes, in a blog post on Dec. 7, criticized the objections, saying there's no evidence that the property was ever used as farmland. 

University Village, along with property now being proposed for development and the neighboring agricultural research fields, were all once part of the original 104-acre Gill Tract, which was owned and used as a nursery by Edward G. Gill, who died in 1909. His family sold the property to the university in 1928.

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David Sanger December 11, 2013 at 07:38 PM
"The project contains ZERO low income or affordable units." Right. It is for a shopping market and for senior housing. That should be fairly obvious by now. Low income housing is a fine idea. If a developer comes forward who wants to build low income housing in Albany and can get funding and a location, then then that will go through Planning and Zoning too.
christopher papazoglow December 11, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Are "senior" and "low-income or affordable" mutually exclusive? Are there not set-asides ( or whatever it's called ) already in the plan that a percentage of those units be "affordable or low-income" senior-housing units? Surely that would be the case, with a 175-unit proposal, right?
tr December 11, 2013 at 11:10 PM
christopher - no, in fact "senior" and "assisted living" are also mutually exclusive in this case. "exclusive" is accurate to describe people who will be able to afford to live there. . . . david - u r correct. the ship has sailed and it is too late to renegotiate with the landowner. the city already gave uc all the rezoning and exemptions that they wanted. but, i think we did get 2 blocks of bike lanes and public art, which will be nicer than having to walk to the bulb. . . . senior, i think the requirement for affordable and low income housing is in something called the alameda county housing plan or something like that. albany has not done much to meet the goals. i saw an article about the plan in rlation to the bulb. . . dorothy - yes, you don't care. maybe some day you will.
dorthy manser December 12, 2013 at 12:13 AM
No, tr, I don't care. I did, but now I don't. Guess why.
Caryl O'Keefe December 12, 2013 at 12:32 AM
About a half hour ago P&Z Commissioner Phil Moss moved, and Commissioner Nick Pilch seconded, approval of the 6 resolutions for this project. All 4 commissioners present voted yes. That was after almost 2 hours of public comment, most by people who do not live in Albany. I counted 13 Albany residents who spoke, five against the project.

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