UC Proposes Sprouts Farmers Market at University Village

With Whole Foods having pulled out of UC Berkeley's development plan for University Village in Albany, the campus has now proposed a Sprouts Farmers Market instead. A public unveiling of the proposal takes place May 8.

A Sprouts Farmers Market is being proposed by UC Berkeley as the large grocery retail outlet for University Village in Albany in place of the previously proposed Whole Foods outlet.

Whole Foods announced in September that it was pulling out of the plan and said in February that it would build a new outlet at 10th and Gilman in Berkeley instead.

Sprouts Farmers Market – whose motto is "Healthy living for less!" – is opening several new outlets in California, including the Bay Area. At the end of 2012, it operated approximately 150 stores in eight states west of the Mississippi, according the company.

"The University is happy to announce that we have selected Oppidan Development to implement the retail portion of the mixed use project," UC Berkeley's director of property development, Kevin Hufferd, told Patch via email Tuesday.

"The Oppidan project includes a proposed Sprouts Farmers Market, a full-service, grocery store that focuses on organic/natural food, fresh produce, great prices and old-fashioned customer service as their anchor tenant," Hufferd said. "We are confident that the proposed Sprouts Farmers Market will be a great fit for our University Village residents and the surrounding community."

UC's draft design plans for the new Sprouts – along with a reconfigured lay-out of its proposed senior housing project at University Village – were posted on the City of Albany's website Friday.

The first public airing and discussion of the revised UC development plan is scheduled for the May 8 meeting of the city's Planning & Zoning Commission, which will be held at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

The Sprouts supermarket and senior housing are part of the university's longstanding plan to put a mixed-use development on the large University Village property, whose main use is family housing for graduate students.

After many hearings and sometimes fractious public debate, the City Council in July approved the UC Berkeley development plan, which at that time called for Whole Foods to be the anchor retail tenant.

The new plan would place a 28,000-square-foot Sprouts building at the rear of the large retail parcel that sits on the northwest corner of Monroe Street and San Pablo Avenue. It would also place a 4,200-square-foot building for additional retail at the front of the lot on San Pablo. Virtually all the remainder of the parcel would be surface parking with 129 spaces, according to the draft plan.

The plan also includes a small "bike barn" next to a two-way bicycle path, or "cycle track," that would run next to the San Pablo Avenue frontage of the retail parcel and in front of the next-door parcel for senior housing. The bicycle path would not be on the roadway but would be separated from San Pablo by a grass strip planted with intermittent trees, according to an architectural rendering in the UC plan.

A representative of the group Albany Strollers & Rollers, Preston Jordan, said in a press release that the organization "commends UC Berkeley for fulfilling its cycling facility commitment by the best means possible.”


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Ken May 03, 2013 at 09:38 PM
Albany residents who are for the development need to mobilize against these minority interest groups - do not let them destroy our city!!
Robin Onaka May 03, 2013 at 11:39 PM
Here we go again;) I like El Cerrito's Natural Grocery store but if you're looking for affordability, you may not find it there. Wasn't that one of the issues people had with Whole Foods? So is the message here that it doesn't matter how much items cost as long as you buy them from a "locally owned" source?
Peter Goodman May 04, 2013 at 12:18 AM
These OTFers are into theatrics, and for the city they've got it figured as a lose-lose situation. If the cops come out they get all that news footage, and if they break into the tract they stick it to UC, again. I suppose a human chain of ordinary Albany citizens might be the best way to obstruct them, although that is going to be confrontational as well. This really has very little to do with Albany or with farming for that matter, as I'm sure we've all figured out by now.
Peggy McQuaid May 04, 2013 at 05:45 AM
On Wednesday, May 8, the Planning and Zoning Commission will review the proposed request from UC on the mixed use development project and provide feedback to the applicant and staff. http://albanyca.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=6&event_id=123 Please note the on line agenda shows an early starting time of 6:30 p.m. Comments on Patch, while interesting, do not replace actual communication with City staff and Commissions as to your feelings on any subject. The most effective way to let the City and UC know that you are supportive of this project is to attend the meeting and speak favorably for it. If that is impossible, please send an email to the Planning and Zoning Commission at cityhall@albanyca.org and write Planning and Zoning Commission in the subject line. It is past time to move this project forward and a strong message should be sent to the Planning and Zoning Commission that there are many Albany people who support this project and the Commission should work toward bringing it to fruition as quickly as possible. Spread the word to your friends and neighbors that the time is NOW to voice your opinion in favor of this proposal – refuse to let a vocal minority shout you down.
Lisa Schneider May 04, 2013 at 05:46 AM
I don't get Keep Albany Local's claim that the "overwhelming wishes and interests of Albany's citizens" are somehow against the overwhelmingly stated wishes and interests of Albany citizens. In America, we have elections to express the wishes of citizens, and in Albany's latest city council election, the Occupierish candidates lost, big time. But bottom line: even if a large mob or a small mob really really really wants something, they don't get to trash the rule of law. No mob is going to tell me I can't sell my house to a redhead, and no mob should succeed in putting similar pressures on the City or UC.
Jim Beller May 04, 2013 at 02:05 PM
While the Whole Foods meeting was certainly packed with shouting people only peripherally connected to Albany, but be careful with terms like "majority" and "minority" in the absence of evidence. A referendum on any major development project in Albany would probably fail unless it fronted on the freeway. It has been so long now since the old student barracks were demolished that many of us think the university is converting publicly owned (yes, UC is a state school) open space to commercial development.
Peggy McQuaid May 04, 2013 at 02:59 PM
The old student barracks on this parcel were demolished in 2006 - a mere 7 years ago as part of Step 3 in UC's Master Plan. The 2004 Master Plan expanded the area considered for commercial and mixed use to include more of the San Pablo Avenue frontage I do not believe that land legally designated for development (and while the project winding its way through the City's building procedures) should be considered "public open space" just because the project has not yet been completed.
Jim Beller May 04, 2013 at 04:50 PM
I'm personally ambiguous about the project, but disagree that only a vocal minority would oppose it. If UC were better funded they might find a use for that land more closely aligned to their mission, but that is something we in Albany have little control over. That quadrant of the city could use a grocery store, but I don't expect any dramatic positive impact on city finances. Will they pay enough taxes to even make up for the additional load on our badly underfunded infrastructure? Then add in a few police calls a week for bad checks and shoplifting -- at least the APD will be able to respond on foot!
Peggy McQuaid May 04, 2013 at 05:22 PM
I have confirmed the Planning and Zoning meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. Sorry for any confusion.
Austin J May 04, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Congrats for knowing a short and uninformed of the history of the land.. This land was purchased by the UC for the EXPRESSED PURPOSE OF FARMING and agricultural research and UNTIL THIS DAY is an agricultural research station and farm that can yield thousands upon thousands of pounds of food while allowing current research to continue. The US govt LEASED part of the land and built housing on it but didn't need all the land for housing so the university kept it for farming to uphold their commitment to the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 which allowed the UC to purchase the land (and I quote THE LAW) "which may provide Colleges for the Benefit of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts." In fact the land was historic (it had a turn of the century building on it until the UC decided to remove it for their development plan), and it has had a long history of providing the abundance of nature and its beauty for the local community dating back to when it was part of the Peralta land grant up through the 60s when it was an international groundbreaking research center for farming and agriculture, the center of biological control (aka non-chemical pest management), and the recent farm occupation which fed thousands of people in local food deserts, as well as locally in berkeley and albany. The whole tract was used for agriculture and research for over 80 years now, and horticulture and farming back when it was owned by the Gill Family until 1928.
Ross Stapleton-Gray May 04, 2013 at 10:10 PM
And now it's today. Bottom line is that the University has certain latitude over how it uses the land it owns, and so far as I can see its proposals are reasonable; the unreasonable parties to this brawl have been the faux-populist "Farmers," who've shown no particular interest in Albany other than as a showcase for stunts. Meanwhile... I attended the ABGSL Bat-A-Q fundraiser today, and as I had to park a ways away, ended up walking past the large vacant block along the north side of Harrison at 8th (I think) street... it's been mowed to the ground, and there's a City posting to the effect that there are plans to create a "community garden" and "sustainable agricultural center" there (!). As in, someone proposes to actual buy or least available open land, and garden on it. Whoa! So apparently this alternative also exists......
Alan Riffer May 04, 2013 at 11:27 PM
Austin - No, the expressed purpose for the UC purchase of the Gill Tract was for use as intramural athletic fields. In fact, there was a horse stable and polo field.there through the 1930s. The Bancroft Library is a wonderful resource as a primary source of historical information. I read the original documents there. The Gill house was removed in recent years because it was falling down. It was not on the site of the proposed development. I wish people opposed to the UC development would speak to the issues rather than conflating unrelated facts or suppositions.
Alan Riffer May 04, 2013 at 11:36 PM
Jim - The independent financial analysis of the project as approved was a net gain to the City's general fund of over $200,000 a year. The analysis included public safety costs, recreation and community services and lots of etc. Thiat analysis did not include the payments of parcel taxes for schools, libraries, etc as they are not part of the general fund. I have not seen an analysis of the financial impact of the revised project.
montymarket May 05, 2013 at 12:28 AM
Vigilante action. This is rich. Imagine it would go down something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Elw9HZfqt2g
Eric Husted May 05, 2013 at 12:56 AM
Hi David - I'm flattered you found me on twitter! You can definitely follow me if you're interested in retweets from local marches and rallies. I even put a tweet up for you so you'll know it's me :)
Brian Parsley May 05, 2013 at 03:04 AM
How utterly offensive monteymarket AKA Bill Dann, former Waterfront Commissioner and Chair of Citizens for Albany Shoreline. You compare Peter Goodman to the KKK? For wanting to express his first amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly? Wasn't you who said in an earlier post "Don't be afraid. Democracy works. Trust it. Embrace it." Absolutely sickening.
Alan Riffer May 05, 2013 at 03:43 AM
Brian, I think it is beyond ironic that Monty is the one who is trying to hide behind a mask when he comments on Patch. And his mask doesn't fit him any better than the ones in his youtube.
Peggy McQuaid May 05, 2013 at 03:44 AM
Bill, I am appalled by your choice of video clips. There are events in history that are so horrific they cannot be turned into a joke. The Klu Klux Klan terrorist tactics fit into this category. It is through the free and open expression of ideas that we reach consensus. Freedom of speech as well as thought is the cornerstone of our democracy. To mockingly compare an idea you do not like to the Klan’s midnight raids is reprehensible. I believe you owe Mr. Goodman an apology.
Jim Beller May 05, 2013 at 07:33 PM
Alan, thanks for the info. I still wonder how this project would impact our underfunded roads, sewers and waste-water treatment.
lubov mazur May 05, 2013 at 09:50 PM
You can bet the Sprouts people are reading these posts. I hope they will stick with us and locate in Albany (wouldn't have TJ's been great if the timing had been better). If they are reading these, I'd like to tell them that my experience with the Walnut Creek store has not been so good. It has not been unusual to get items home to find half of them are spoiled.
Brian Parsley May 05, 2013 at 11:27 PM
I'm kind of confused how this would impact our underfunded roads, sewers and waste-water. Let's say business opens on Solano, becomes wildly popular with lines out the door, would we want to turn that business away? Should we start putting limits on the size of families that can own or rent in Albany as not to tax our roads and sewers?
Jim Beller May 06, 2013 at 12:55 PM
Brian, like I said, I don't oppose the project. Caryl's article shows how we are all paying less in taxes than the real costs of running Albany and we've been making up for the shortfall by shorting our infrastructure. Without evidence I am guessing that a grocery store puts a disproportionate load on our roads, sewers, etc. If each resident or business is viewed as a transaction, and we are losing on every transaction, then growth doesn't help.
Ross Stapleton-Gray May 06, 2013 at 01:40 PM
"Without evidence I am guessing" might be a fine motto for this place, perhaps rendered in Latin. :-) One factor to consider is that San Pablo Avenue isn't "our" road per se, but a State highway, maintained by Caltrans. But I would have to think that net net, having a commercial business like the proposed grocery would mean be a positive thing re taxes.
montymarket May 06, 2013 at 07:26 PM
"Django Unchained" won 2012 Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, Christoph Waltz, and Best Original Screenplay, Quentin Tarantino. IMDb rates the movie 8.6/10.0. Stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio. Grossed over $420 MM.
Caryl O'Keefe May 07, 2013 at 01:25 AM
Jim Beller and others - the staff report for Wed May 8 Planning and Zoning meeting (link in Peggy's post above) lists notable infrastructure mitigations UC must fund for impacts on Albany stormwater, utitilities, and streets: "Preparation of a storm water drainage plan in compliance with various regional standards (Hydro-3 & Hydro-4)"; "Evaluation of the condition of on-site and off-street utility systems"; and "..fair share of improvements intersections impacted by the project ..(various transportation measures)" These are just the initial ones on this agenda, UC will be responsible for providing more municipal infrastructure. Also I uploaded the July 2012 Council staff report on the UC project which summarizes the Economic Analysis line items of General Fund revenues and costs associated with the UC project as it was then. page 10. $204K/pa to be spent on anything our Council deems appropriate.
Brian Parsley May 08, 2013 at 12:00 AM
It looks like OTF are planning shenanigans tomorrows Planning and Zoning meeting. https://www.facebook.com/events/292336977567469/?fref=ts The larger question is will Patch have anyone there to cover it?
Eric Husted May 08, 2013 at 04:43 AM
Ooh, "shenanigans," what fun! I can't wait to see what happens. Although, when I read the event description they don't actually use that word. Brian, why do bring me up just to let me down? Here's their description: Community mobilization to counter UC Berkeley's renewed development plans for the Gill Tract! Despite Whole Foods pulling out of the development agreement and building a store a few blocks away, despite fifteen years of resistance from Albany residents and East Bay community members, despite grassroots voter referenda in Albany, despite two lawsuits, despite a huge occupation and sustained direct action as well as public meetings and forums all indicating overwhelming opposition to the project....despite all of that UC Berkeley just announced that it still intends to proceed with its plans to pave over this valuable natural resource. Come and speak out! We'll meet outside Albany City Hall at 6:30 (across from the Gill Tract) and talk about why paving over this land is a mistake, and why urban farming is the right choice for the Gill Tract. We'll head into the Planning & Zoning Commission hearing together.
David Sanger May 08, 2013 at 06:30 AM
OTF is comprised almost completely of people from outside of Albany and there most certainly has not been anything near "overwhelming" opposition by Albany residents. In fact the two OTF candidates were quite soundly defeated in the election.
Damon Lisch May 08, 2013 at 01:11 PM
Eric, I've been wondering what your model is for Gill, long term. You claim to want to have a farm that will provide food for the poor. Who will pay for it? You? Who will pay the people that work on the farm? Will they be people that really need a job (say, poor folks in Oakland) or will they be volunteers? If they will be actual working people with families, then will they get a living wage with benefits? If so, where will the money come from? Sale of the veggies? But I thought you would be giving them away to the poor, so where? If a kid gets injured, and the parents decide to sue, whom will they sue? You? Or are they banned from suing? If someone takes a crap in the field while veggies are being grown, and some poor mom in Oakland gets E coli poisoning, who will take responsibility? You? What if some of your “farmers” take up meth and get violent, or what if someone gets raped? Who will you call? The cops? You? Or not you, since you only support them? Then who? The leaderless “Farm Collective?” What do you call power without responsibility?
Mary Flaherty May 10, 2013 at 04:38 AM
Way to go, Peggy! Thanks.


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