Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 11, 2012

Going Habanas

Filed under: Alameda, Development — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

Typically I would write about the Planning Board meeting, but I wanted to read through the Supplemental EIR for Target and the urban blight analysis — one of the big sticking points that earned the Landing a no vote from Planning Board member Henneberry — so instead I’m going to write about what happened at the Historic Advisory Board meeting last Thursday.

Just a quick update on 500 Central, the Board decided to continue the issue because the two HAB members who were part of the subcommittee that met with the property owner were absent from Thursdays meeting and they didn’t feel comfortable moving forward without hearing from the subcommittee members even though they had recommended approval since the property owner already agreed to their conditions.   So the property owner has to wait until February to get a final disposition on his property.

What I really annoyed by was the discussion around Habanas’ (you know the Cuban restaurant on Park Street) application to change up the exterior of their building.  So this is what the exterior looks like, from the staff report:

Essentially what they wanted to square off the front of the building by adding panels of stackable doors that would be mostly glass when closed off but would make the building nearly open when the doors were opened.   You can get an idea of where the work would have happened and how the doors would looked once installed.   On the first photo the top is the existing elevation and the bottom what it would have looked like.

In this photo the left is after the work is done, the right is what the store front looks like now.

For a better idea of what these doors look like in real life, you can check out the website here, Habanas wanted to put in these aluminum doors, this is the best photo I could find although this was for a residential installation:

And I believe this is how the corner front would have looked with the panels opened, albeit Habanas was going to keep the column at the corner:

The idea, according to Habanas was to have this indoor/outdoor eating experience so that people eating outside would still feel a part of the restaurant interior.  Sort of like what goes on at Pappos.  Also they wanted to be able to put to use the space that is sort of wasted — from a restaurant aspect — at the entrance.

So you know where this is going right?   I mean, I probably wouldn’t be writing about it if the whole thing went through without issue.   But there was an issue.   The Alameda Architectural Preservation Society came out en masse to urge the HAB to not approve the application explaining that the corner entrance was historic and a prime example of historic corner store fronts in the Park Street Historic District.   One representative from AAPS actually questioned City Staff’s credentials in Historic Preservation that would allow them the authority to make such a recommendation.

I think Habanas, from the discussion, sort of knew that they weren’t going to get an approval from the HAB.   With one of the Board Members asking why he couldn’t mirror the storefront itself with the glass panels instead of squaring off the front and others questioning as to why the application was unchanged from October’s application, even though City Staff was recommending approval, it was clear that he knew the writing on the wall.    When the chair asked if he would like a continuance to further work with staff to make the design more acceptable, he declined and said he would prefer an up or down vote.

This is where the bureaucracy gets obnoxious.    If the HAB declined his application, he would have the opportunity to appeal to the Planning Board and then appeal that decision to the City Council.   So an up and down vote would mean, in the best case, they would say yes and he was ready to go, in the worst case he would have to go to the Planning Board City Council.    Unfortunately because there were only three out of the five members present the vote needed to be unanimous to be able to take action on the issue.   In the motion to reject the application it was a 2-1 vote to reject so the application was not declined.   Of course he was not going to get an acceptance of the application so the Board voted to continue the item which leaves Habanas in HAB limbo much like the 500 Central application.

The worst case is the state of limbo that Habanas currently is in.  It would have been more appropriate for the HAB to come to some sort of disposition one way or the other given that they wanted a straight up and down vote instead of a continuance.  It was unclear why the Board Member who voted against denial did so, because it did not appear that the Board Member was particularly inclined to approve the application in the first place.

Personally, I imagine that the treatment would be quite nice and would have added visual interest to Habanas, we’ll see where the issue goes if this comes up at the February HAB meeting.

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108 Comments

  1. >>> This is where the bureaucracy gets obnoxious.

    Indeed.

    Comment by Jack B. — January 11, 2012 @ 6:13 am

  2. Wait, if three is a quorum, then 2 out of three is a vote to deny. Either the board shouldn’t have been sitting (no quorum) or a majority of sitting members wins. It doesnt matter what the original number of board members is. Mister/Ms Habanas should find out what a quorum is on that board.

    Comment by Li_ — January 11, 2012 @ 7:43 am

  3. Ok, I looked it up. Three can sit, but they all have to agree or disagree.interesting way to keep a petitioner dangling as the likelihood of getting all of a group to agree is small. I woner how often a quorum consists of people who aren’t there? Something to look up when I retire.

    Comment by Li_ — January 11, 2012 @ 7:56 am

  4. I was planning a trip to Cuba but why spend the money traveling that far when one can attend an Alameda Planning board meeting and experience real tyrannical authoritarianism.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 11, 2012 @ 8:29 am

  5. Where did an “advisory” group get so much authority. There should be three options yes, no, or in the case of the inability to reach either of the first two options an automatic “unable to advise” and let the project move forward to the planning board, where the citizen advisors of the HAB can have their say just like any other citizen.

    Comment by notadave — January 11, 2012 @ 8:41 am

  6. according to charter change for HAB from recent election, the three person quorum must vote unanimously up or down in order make a binding decision, like a majority of a full board. The old rule allowed a two to one vote, which is how the porch on Bay squeaked through. That was good for the Bay Street project because the full board would have rejected them, but HAB rules now match other boards. If the three thought they were not likely to agree, why vote? Perhaps they were inclined against and wanted in put from those with other points of view? I hope the applicant didn’t get charged staff time by the hour for a meeting which got them nowhere. I am going to guess the three person quorum made up a two to one split. They couldn’t do a straw poll amongst themselves to figure that out before a real vote, but comments reveal the leaning of members. If your beef is that the three in attendance should have granted the application, I have no comment.

    Comment by M.I. — January 11, 2012 @ 8:47 am

  7. Who ARE these people and what planet are they on? This board was designed to avoid horrific mistakes like the multi-unit cracker box apartments that began edging out the Victorians years ago, not to preserve every brick, stone, and crumbling inch of mortar that just happens to be old. The Habanas plan is fabulous. It would, like other businesses before it, ignite a livelier street scene on that stretch of Park Street, and I’m sure would increase business. Habanas has really good food and they are a nice break from the typical fare so many restaurants offer. (The Red Onion set to open soon looks adorable but, another burger place? Okay, we’ll see. They HAVE done a great job preserving the style of their building while massively updating it, BTW, so kudos to them for that.) Let’s not beat up on those brave souls who are still willing to invest in improvements. ARGHHHHHHHHH!

    Comment by Denise Shelton — January 11, 2012 @ 10:49 am

  8. If I’m Habanas I appeal to the planning board. HAB should not be foot dragging on an issue in order to come up with a vote that they like.

    Comment by John P. — January 11, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

  9. If HAB had it their way they would only let Habanas serve Tommy Tuckers and Cho Cho’s and they would have Old Man Tucker in a Cryonic State in a see thru freezer out front.

    Comment by John — January 11, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

  10. As a point of clarification, decisions of the Historic Advisory Board are appealed to the City Council, not the Planning Board. Thanks!

    Comment by Alex Nguyen — January 11, 2012 @ 4:52 pm

  11. Alex N: Thanks for the clarification, I’ve made the correction above.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 11, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

  12. appeals cost money and take time to calendar. can you appeal a board doing nothing? Maybe people should think about massive show of support for Habanas at next HAB meeting rather than and wringing on blogs. When the Red Onion building changed from a dry cleaner to a tropical fish store the new business had to appeal to HAB to switch the sign (neon) on the art deco facade. The neon was switched from colors of Italian flag to red and blue ( Neon Tetra fish), but not without some resistance. Certain signs are classified historic also.

    Comment by M.I. — January 11, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

  13. sorry Lauren, I was in a big hurry this a.m. and didn’t get the end part of your post straight until I just reread where you actually state that the board voted 2-1 against. So they did try as opposed to do nothing. I also infer that this was Habanas second time before HAB! I assume they were turned away that time without a decision and told to redesign which I guess they didn’t because they are looking to move on to City Council appeal. John P is right, go straight to appeal.

    Comment by M.I. — January 11, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

  14. MI: I guess what made the vote really weird, for me, was the one against denial of the application was from a member that asked about redesigning the facade. According to staff, they worked a lot with Habanas about how to modify the design to be palatable for everyone, in the end it just didn’t work out and they were satisfied that he had tried and recommended approval.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 11, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

  15. There needs to be some fundamental changes in Article 28 section 1 and 2 of the Charter. I would suggest verbiage that is supportive instead of one that is adversarial be made clear in the Charter though the initiative process. I don’t know why the culture of local government has become such an impediment for progress.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 11, 2012 @ 7:08 pm

  16. 1955 San Francisco Footage Shows The City As It Once Was (VIDEO)

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/1955-san-francisco-video-tour_n_1187728.html?ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

    Comment by John — January 11, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

  17. I am the AAPS member who had the audacity to question the credentials of the city staff in making decisions related to architectural history. According to the Federal Code of Regulations 36 CFR part 61, minimum professioonal qualifications are The minimum professional qualifications in architectural history are a graduate degree in architectural history, art history, historic preservation, or closely related field, with coursework in American architectural history, or a bachelor’s degree in architectural history, art history, historic preservation or closely related field plus one of the following:
    1. At least two years of full-time experience in research, writing, or teaching in American architectural history or restoration architecture with an academic institution, historical organization or agency, museum, or other professional institution; or
    2. Substantial contribution through research and publication to the body of scholarly knowledge in the field of American architectural history.

    Neither the city nor the HAB made these requirements, they are simply applying federal standards to keep our architectural heritage in tact. The pictures Lauren shows of the folding doors would look great in a more modern setting but would appear quite out of place in a historic district that is a city monument. They actually could disqualify the Park Street district as a city monument.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — January 11, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

  18. “They actually could disqualify the Park Street district as a city monument.”

    Do we need to Tear Down Fire House on Park street and Rebuild Barker Tilton.

    Nancy I think you might have caught a old Wood Chip from an Old Alameda Building in your Charmin.

    Comment by John — January 11, 2012 @ 10:26 pm

  19. Nancy H.: Folding doors, sliding doors, opening doors are not exclusive to modern installations. I recall a commenter scoffing at Habanas characterization of the opening doors as an “European” feel, explaining that he had never seen treatments like that in Europe. Which took me aback since indoor/outdoor sidewalk cafes are everywhere in Paris, and no one values their history like Parisians. A handful of examples from a quickie Google Images search. This website has a bunch of them. I don’t think anyone could argue that the opening doors, even the more modern all glass ones, diminish the historic look of these cafes and restaurants.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 12, 2012 @ 6:18 am

  20. Just from a consumer perspective I remeber when this place was Emerld Garden. The food wasn’t bad but the layout was horrible and not at all a pleasant dining experience. Because of that we stopped eating in the restaurant and would do occasional take-out but finally.

    When Habanos first opened as Havanas we ate there several times. It was a big improvement in the bar area but still the restaurant layout is pretty grim.

    We don’t eat there anymore. We prefer Angela’s Bistro as the food is good and the layout if GREAT. I really don’t see Habanos surviving in the current state.

    Let face it there are a lot of historic dumps on Park Street. As long as we insist that they remain that way we will not attract new business to the City.

    Comment by frank — January 12, 2012 @ 6:21 am

  21. The current entrance does not strike me as looking particularly historic (aluminum framing?), though I haven’t researched it. The plan looks to be an improvement to me that could be done in harmony with the existing building and open it up to the street. Lauren, nice examples from Paris. HAB serves a good purpose but risks weakening its authority in something like this which has a good chance of going the other way on appeal.

    Comment by Cross Creason — January 12, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

  22. I have a question, do any of you real old guys remember if the original Tuckers store front was squared off or was it always as pictured here?.

    Comment by John P. — January 12, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

  23. There must be an effective way of mixing the old with the new while preserving a building’s history and charm. Piedmont Avenue in Oakland does a very good job of that and they are a very popular retail district. The Habanas design looks good to me. I’m not sure what the concerns are here or what’s the alternative — no sliding doors?

    Here what they say about Piedmont Ave:
    Historically, the Piedmont Avenue shopping area has provided retail shopping for the upscale city of Piedmont, California and many trendy restaurants and boutique retailers line the street.
    There are several landmarks in the area. The center of the Piedmont Avenue commercial strip is a Julia Morgan designed 1916 red brick building, originally built as the Fred C. Turner Stores, which is at the corner of 40th St. and Piedmont Avenue. It now houses several gourmet food merchants.
    The Piedmont Avenue commercial area features numerous locally-owned small businesses, including shops, bars and restaurants, an independent movie theater, a gym, and numerous specialty stores. There are several coffee shops, a tea shop, and a number of restaurants with diverse types of food. There is a full-service grocery and several smaller food stores. Piedmont Avenue’s Fenton’s Creamery founded in 1893 was featured in Pixar’s 2009 movie.

    I hope our HAB board lightens up some — the goal is to create a vibrant retail district in addition to preserving its history.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 12, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

  24. John P

    I use to remember parking our Bikes up against that post and heading back to the parks with a bagfull Tommy Tuckers and Cho Cho’s for everyone. That was in the early 60’s. I think the Cho Cho’s were a Nickel and the T T’s were a dime. Is that old Enough.

    Comment by John — January 12, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

  25. OK John I know you are old enough, but what I meant is, was that corner solid with a front door or was the door set back as it shows in the present picture. The layout looks kind of 60 ish. Just wondering.

    Comment by John P. — January 12, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  26. Okay, John, do you remember Kitty’s Cupboard. You did go to A H S, right.

    Tucker’s was square in the fifties and had vanilla malt one week then chocolate the next.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 12, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

  27. John I remember it pretty much the same. Except the Tuckers had a Screen door.

    Here are some shots of Park Street you might be able to catch corner if you really blow it up.

    http://www.cardcow.com/viewall/65010/

    Comment by John — January 12, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

  28. This has Old Tuckers on the Very Far Left

    http://www.cardcow.com/293094/park-street-alameda-california/

    Comment by John — January 12, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

  29. John, you’re one/half block away. Tucker’s was at the corner of Webb and Park, your picture shows Santa Clara and Park. The far left building in your post card might be Owl’s Drugstore but it’s not Tucker’s. Second thought, Tucker’s may have had the cut corner but definitely did not have the big windows. I didn’t pay much attention to Tucker’s because there was a little tiny liquor store near it that I used to buy a bottle of wine before going over to my future wife’s bottom floor apartment on Foley St. behind Good Chevy.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 12, 2012 @ 8:22 pm

  30. Jack your Right….That shot is taken about where P&G was..About 2 -3 Doors from Tuckers. I was looking at it on a hand held.

    Comment by John — January 13, 2012 @ 12:50 am

  31. There is an old photo of the Tuckers building here, structurally it looks pretty much the same except the plate glass window was removed.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 13, 2012 @ 9:12 am

  32. Lauren,

    Tuckers was located at Webb and Park Street…..Where Habanas is located. ……1518 Park Street.

    Tucker Building
    1430-1440 Park Street

    Was where the Alameda Park Asylum hung it’s hat, It was a privately-run insane asylum. Probably where Jack and I recieved our degrees.

    Comment by John — January 13, 2012 @ 9:34 am

  33. Ah John, my error, I thought you were referring to the existing Tuckers building. This is where my newness is definitely a handicap.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 13, 2012 @ 9:44 am

  34. Lauren,

    That was the reason for my comment 9. Unless you lived here when Dinosaurs roamed Park Street you would not have known.

    9.If HAB had it their way they would only let Habanas serve Tommy Tuckers and Cho Cho’s and they would have Old Man Tucker in a Cryonic State in a see thru freezer out front.

    Comment by John — January 13, 2012 @ 9:51 am

  35. Well here’s an old photo of the building from when it was Emerald Garden — as referenced above by frank — at some point it appears that Habanas was able to remove the entrance directly on Park Street without much fuss. Of course this doesn’t help to answer the question about the corner storefront, which I think would be interesting to see old photos to know how “historic” it truly is.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 13, 2012 @ 10:05 am

  36. Can’t open the pictures. I thought the door was set back, but not on the corner, it was one side of a rectangle. This would be about 1970. Did one of those pictures solve the mystery of the door placement? It was pretty dark inside, not much natural light. Does Kate Prior know?

    Comment by Li_ — January 13, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

  37. Li: I fixed the link to the photo, perhaps that center entrance is the one you remembered?

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 14, 2012 @ 6:27 am

  38. Kate Pryor, a second generation Alamedan, grew up enjoying Tucker’s Ice Cream and had the opportunity to purchase the business in 1990. Still using the original recipes and adding some new twists, Kate has carried on the traditions of both producing the finest Supercreamed Ice Cream around and investing in her community through service and support.

    In April of 2000, Kate moved the business to its current and larger location, which offers comfortable seating for families and groups, a lovely patio area and banquet facilities. One thing that hasn’t changed: Tucker’s still makes Alameda’s finest ice cream and in its beautiful location one can enjoy some stolen moments reminiscent of a time gone by!
    .

    Comment by John — January 14, 2012 @ 10:50 am

  39. Tuckers use to just occupy the Corner of the building.The second part was occupied by a Shoe repair and P&G Deli where Emerald Garden expanded into.

    Comment by John — January 14, 2012 @ 11:02 am

  40. 35. Lauren, the photo shows what were two separate store fronts, the partition between having been torn out to make one larger venue, but I think the removal of the front entry in the middle is a much more significant change in many ways, that what is being proposed, and your photo is perhaps the strongest evidence to argue precedent for the requested change.

    When it comes to Alameda being unfriendly to business, there are lots of examples, but they vary. In my mind the objection to Target at Southshore was reasonable if not entirely justified. Even though it may have worked well as an anchor tenant, the fact that a multi story parking element was deemed necessary for that Target was an indicator to me that too big for that site. Access to FISC site may be questionable in terms of the tube, but it eliminates cross island traffic issue. Recent letters to editor incorrectly and regularly make the claim we ran Orchard out of town, but that project was approved and it was OSH own economic decision. Inkies is yet another separate story where in fact it wasn’t Alamedans against another tattoo parlor which caused him to pull his application, it was hostility from within the wider community of working tattoo artists.

    However, the Habanas door is to me a choice example of fussy bureaucratic micro-managing Alameda style which is exactly the kind of thing which discourages people from doing business here.

    Here is quote from AAPS letter which would seem to be the core of their argument:”

    AAPS considers elements of the corner entry; polychrome tile, wood paneled ceiling, early 20th century
    bronze-plated steel storefront window system, presumed marble bulkheads, and the wood entry door to be
    historic materials contributing to the historic character of the property and should be retained. If the paint
    were removed from the bulkheads and storefront sash, the corner bay would be one of the best preserved
    historic storefronts in the district.

    Comment by M.I. — January 14, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

  41. In reference to AAPS letter, the La Penca Azul restaurant entry is similar configuration, but historic wood paneling etc. has been replaced with cheap grooved plywood. How did that one slip past AAPS?

    Comment by M.I. — January 14, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

  42. #40 – Thank you for taking the time (that I did not have last week) to dig up the letter from AAPS describing our concerns. The tile, diagonal paneled wood ceiling and potential bronze window system are the issues we have. Once gone – never can be replaced. I have no idea what was at Penca Azul before the cheap plywood but we don’t want this to keep happening.

    People in this city really do care about our historic resources and want to see them presereved. Since my phone number is published on our website, I am one who gets the calls when someone sees something amiss. We don’t catch everything and we do our best to reward those who do restoration work correctly. With this in mind, anyone see good work done over the past year? We are looking for nominees for our annual preservation awards. Paint jobs don’t count – the work has to be significant and usually structural except for the wonderful work Michael McDonald is doing to restore old signs on Webster St.

    Go to http://www.alameda-preservation.org to find nomination forms.

    The awards will be especially fun this year as we begin our kids awards program.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — January 16, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

  43. There just seems to be something fundamentally wrong when a city bureaucracy must rely on snitches for it to do what it does and then rewards itself.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 16, 2012 @ 7:08 pm

  44. Owners who manage to jump through all those hoops to restore a building to the state at which AAPS thinks they deserve an award should have their building permit fees refunded. Keep the plaque and/or certificate. (This would encourage others to upgrade and, since it’s so difficult to qualify, would not cost the City much in the long run.)

    Comment by Denise Shelton — January 17, 2012 @ 10:17 am

  45. Re 43: Jack, AAPS is not a city entity: it is a private non-profit of volunteers. The awards are paid for by the AAPS Board. HAB is a city entity and does not give preservation awards as far as I know.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — January 17, 2012 @ 10:38 pm

  46. When I moved here Tucker’s was still on the corner of Webb and Park, one block away from my house. The corner entrance was the same, including the tile on the sidewalk there.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — January 17, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

  47. There is no reason that Habanas could not have their inside/outside windows on the Park Street side while keeping the corner cut out. Especially if Linguini’s joined them and extended to the next building over, it could be quite charming and functional. Habanas would need to move the bar away from the window there.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — January 17, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

  48. Thanks, Kevis, my mistake. I’d wager HAB and AAPS are joined at the cupola, though.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 18, 2012 @ 9:08 am

  49. #48 – Actually, we are not. AAPS puts just as much effort into appearing at and advocating for what we believe to be correct as we do with the Planning Board and City Council. Some of us may know some of the HAB members personally but that does not matter any more than some of us knowing PB or CC members personally. That is as far as the cupola goes.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — January 18, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

  50. “…advocating for what we believe to be correct…”

    Instead of what’s right.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 18, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

  51. 44. Hi Denise-
    AAPS has been awarding Preservation Awards for 14 years with the 15th year of awards coming up in May. You can see the Preservation Award winners before and after pictures at this site: http://www.alameda-preservation.org/preservation-awards/table/ . Unfortunately, the years 1998-2000 aren’t listed yet. That would be lovely if the city were to reduce or refund building permit fees for people who are doing restoration work. “Jumping through hoops” is not how I would describe it exactly; protecting the integrity of the built environment is more how I would put it. If you look at the pictures, you can see the significant effort people made on restoring the worth and charm of these buildings, which benefits us all as a community.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — January 18, 2012 @ 7:03 pm

  52. Additionally, if anyone wants the inside scoop on how to “jump through hoops” getting approvals for restoring or modifying a protected building — attend the lecture AAPS is putting on January 26, “Ask the Building Official” with Greg McFann : http://www.alameda-preservation.org/2011/12/building-official/

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — January 18, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

  53. Cezar’s on Piedmont Ave in Oakland have similar inside/outdoor windows like the ones being proposed at Habanas. Take a look when you get a chance, they look great!

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 19, 2012 @ 7:48 am

  54. Great example Karen, here’s the Google Street view for those that may not be able to make it out to Piedmont Ave.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 19, 2012 @ 9:04 am

  55. Lauren, these do look great but I don’t think this is what is being proposed by the Habanas owners. One thing that makes them look great is the wood surrounding each window. Another picture you advanced earlier showed a more metallic appearing finish giving a more modern appearance. Both pictures address the front of the building when the corner doorway is the issue with AAPS. If Habanas installed new windows on the front of the store without desroying the existing historic fabric of the tile, entryway ceiling and possible bronze window casings, maybe there would not be such controversy. The HAB, Dennis Owens in particular, is stretching to accomodate and fnd a compromise with Habanas and the guy from Habanas opted for a denial over a continuence at the HAB meeting. Working together for a solution requires both parties to play and Habanas isan’t showing any indication they want to consider anything other than what they have been proposing all along.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — January 19, 2012 @ 10:38 am

  56. Nancy: Wouldn’t wood surrounded glass be less appropriate for the application given that, in the AAPS letter one of the key points was ” early 20th century bronze-plated steel storefront window system”?

    No one asked the owner to go with a wood surround for the glass doors that night, which I’m sure he might have considered. The only compromised offered by the HAB that night was for Habanas to mirror the glass doors to the current corner shape and Habanas didn’t seem to think that would gain them any functionality over the current structure. At this point the HAB and this applicant appear to be at a stalemate, the appropriate step would be to deny it and allow the applicant to move on instead of keeping him in limbo if both parties have already dug in their heels as to their positions.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 19, 2012 @ 10:46 am

  57. Lauren, I think the bronze casings could still remain as the frame but I amy be wrong. Either way, if you physically go to Habanas and look at that corner they want to enclose, not even a table with 4 chairs would fit in the space so I don’t see how they are gaining anything with their design.

    The Planning Department has met extensively with the Habanas owner to reach a compromise prior to the HAB meeting which was alluded to during the meeting. Dennis Owens and others have offered suggestions as well. The combination of Dennis’s vote and the absense of 2 HAB members is propelling the continuation of this to the Feb. meeting. If this does go to City Council, there will be a number of very well spoken AAPS members, as well as members of the community in general, who will oppose allowing any more damage to the existing building that does not meet the Federal Standards for keeping the original features of this prominant structure in a historic district..

    Comment by Nancy Hird — January 19, 2012 @ 11:03 am

  58. Lauren

    Like I said

    .If HAB had it their way they would only let Habanas serve Tommy Tuckers and Cho Cho’s and they would have Old Man Tucker in a Cryonic State in a see thru freezer out front.

    Comment by John — January 19, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

  59. Nancy: And Planning Staff recommended the HAB approve the application, without additional compromise. The staff noted that night that they had worked with Habanas, not — as suggested by some members of the HAB — that Habanas had ignored all suggestions and didn’t even attempt to make any concessions.

    I seem to recall that Planning Staff’s credentials were brought into question as to their ability to recommend approval without the proper background and certifications. On the other hand, no one seems to be questioning the credentials of the HAB members as long as they make the correct votes.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 19, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

  60. There are a couple members of the HAB with the proper credentials (see #17) but I doubt there is anyone on the planning staff with them which is why I raised the question. In #57, I was referring the the fact that the planning staff worked with Habanas and Habanas seems to have dug in their feet insisting on their plans.

    I have never been in Habanas, or walked by, when it was completely full. Maybe I have chosen the wrong times. In fairly recent history, has anyone expereinced having to wait for a table? If so, for drinks or a meal? When I was there checking out the building last week at lunchtime, it was just me and the bartender.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — January 19, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

  61. Does the number of customers have a bearing on HAB or Planning Board decisions and what does the CFR (17) have to do with a local community’s desire to place anybody they like in a voluntary position?

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 19, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

  62. Nothing like a pent up frustrated Nail, Brick,and Mortar Nazi mozy into your Business worrying about your Customer Count to make a decision. Amazing the mindsets in this town.

    Comment by John — January 19, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

  63. The economics are what the owner says is driving this change of the corner. To me, this is a factor since Habanas brought it into play. Nobody wants to drive business out of town Habanas says they need the space. and if they can’t have it, they are packing up and going back to Arizona. At least, that is what I got out of their dialoge at the HAB meeting. (I’ll stomp my feet and if I don’t get my way, I’ll take my Mohitoes and go home.)

    Comment by Nancy Hird — January 19, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

  64. Speaking of credentials, if applicants are starting to talk about economics at an HAB meeting, it would make sense to consolidate the HAB, Economic Development Commission and Transportation Commission into the Planning Board. Each of the seats on the Planning Board can have a designated specialty, similar to many state boards. Here’s how I would designate the seven seats: (1) historic preservationist or architect, (2) transportation expert, (3) business/economic development, (4) schools/education facility, (5) labor union representative, (6) public works engineer and (7) attorney or at-large.

    Comment by Alan — January 19, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

  65. (#63) “…they are packing up and going back to Arizona.”

    The business owner is the person most likely to understand his business and how to grow it economically. The dismissive tone taken by someone who obviously would rather the owner take his business and leave our precious ‘dumpy-as-is-town-but-authentically-dumpy’ than to see his business thrive.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 19, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

  66. Jack

    The Mindsets of people like #63 are incrediable……They have no Clue how hard it is to run a resturant let alone a frkn Business….If anyone wanted to start a Business in this town and read the frkn garbage she spews and has actual input on what and what you can and can’t do I would run for the Border also.

    Comment by John — January 19, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

  67. Restaurants and buildings housing restaurants that have won AAPS Preservation Awards: Wescafe, 1536 Webster; Alameda Theatre & Cineplex (includes Burgermeister, Alameda Wine Bar, & Angela’s); Little House Cafe, 2300 Blanding Avenue; Oddfellows Building, 2329 Santa Clara (includes Cafe Fudgelato); Post Office Block– includes Starbucks, 1364 Park St; 1336 Park St, includes Tomatina; The Marketplace, 1650 Park St – includes East End Pizza, Ching Hua, Culina, Sushi King, Beanery; Skylight Cafe, 2320 Central – now Pappo’s. So now tell me you can’t have a successful restaurant business and do a historically sensitive renovation at the same time.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — January 19, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

  68. ” historically sensitive renovation” = my way or the highway

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 19, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

  69. so you are saying the renovation efforts did not enhance the success of these restaurants? I think that it is part of what makes them attractive.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — January 19, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

  70. Every Business in Alameda doesn’t recieve these kind of Rent Breaks.

    Regarding the Alameda Theatre and Cineplex

    “In real estate investments we would look for a gross return of about 4 million on a 37 million dollar investment and hope to retain 2.5 million of that after expenses. We would also expect to pay 500-600 thousand per year in property taxes. This is a fine example of why governments should not do real estate investment. Those making the decisions have no skin in the game, and when the investment does not pan out, they can merely retire on a comfortable pension. In our industry if the investment does not pan out, you lose your home and your bank account. It tends to focus the mind a bit.”

    With the new rent windfall we now recieve about 7% of the going market rate for this type of investment and lose about 500-600,000 in property taxes.

    Kinda like building 100 new houses at a cost 370,000 to the City of Alameda and now recieving 236.00 and month in rent vs 95.00 a month rent and Celebrating. Plus Recieve No Property Tax

    Comment by John — January 19, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  71. Alameda Theater is a unique case among all the restaurants that were in my paragraph. Excepting the restaurants at the theater, then, do you see any reason why a restaurant can’t be successful in a nicely renovated historic building, without messing up the features that make it historic? I would say that Pappo, the restaurants in the Marketplace, Tomatina, and Little House Cafe are some of our more successful restaurants.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — January 19, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

  72. Kevis you and Nancy aren’t alone in Running people away……

    CA Anti-Biz Policies Crash Incomes

    DEC. 11, 2011

    “California has been transformed into a toxic anti-business state that works hard at drive businesses away.”

    Toxic Business Environment
    In a 2011 poll of various California business groups, 82 percent of executives and owners said that if they weren’t already in the state, they would not consider starting up here. And 64 percent said the main reason they stayed in California was that it was tough to relocate their particular kind of business.

    For several years in a row, California has ranked dead last in the Chief Executive magazine’s poll about the business environment of states in the U.S.

    Limousine liberals, rich environmentalists, union bosses and their pet politicians that comprise much of the top 25 percent of income earners in California have not suffered devastating income declines in the recent recession.

    Responding to the Chief Executive poll, Steve Smith of the Labor Federation of California charged that it represented “little more than corporate honchos throwing around their weight to try to further strip working people of important protections that improve lives.” But for the 75 percent of Californians not at the top income levels, California’s anti-business environment continues to inflict real pain on the lives of workers and their families.

    http://www.calwatchdog.com/2011/12/10/ca-anti-biz-policies-impoverish-middle-class/

    Comment by John — January 19, 2012 @ 11:39 pm

  73. A bit of background, the Park Street Historic Commercial District is part of the National Register of Historic Places. It is roughly bounded by Oak, Park, Lincoln and Encinal. There are 64 buildings that comprise the district. One of these buildings is the one occupied by Habanas. If you look in this area of Park at the street corner buildings, you’ll find most of them have corner entrances – some original, some recreations.

    The Chair of the HAB suggested that the applicant should consider folding doors that when closed, would continue to define the corner entry. Seems to me like a reasonable compromise – enable sidewalk dining and open entry while keeping the key defining characteristic.

    If you buy or rent a historic property, it comes with strings. If you don’t want strings, buy or rent one that isn’t historic.

    Comment by Alan Teague — January 22, 2012 @ 12:20 am

  74. Alan

    I think it would be a nice Gesture on your part for you to put up 37 million on the 64 Buildings that comprise the District to restore back to original like we did with the Theatre. I’m sure the owners of those buildings and stores would love to pay 7% of the going market rate on your investment. Plus you pay all the increase in Property Tax.

    Give each one a Check for 580K and they will pay you 400 a month and you can call all the shots.

    I think it’s a Win Win for everyone that way. I think Kevis and Nancy will Step right up also.

    Comment by John — January 22, 2012 @ 4:29 am

  75. John Unknown

    I am missing the reference in my comment which asks or implies that owners should or must restore them back to the original. But then again, the debate style of Aristophanes’ “The Frogs” isn’t about reason, it’s about “weight” over relevance.

    Comment by Alan Teague — January 22, 2012 @ 8:05 am

  76. “If you buy or rent a historic property, it comes with strings. If you don’t want strings, buy or rent one that isn’t historic.”

    What if you have owned property for years. Now they are telling you it’s Historic. Whats Historic for a few is a POS to most and could use a nice facelift. You have a few anal retentives in Town who are running a Business out of the City over something so petty.

    It’s amazing the mindsets and where we draw Lines . How come the Good Chevrelot Building is Not Included In that Area, I hope we turn the parking lot in Good Cheverolt back into a Park like the Good Ole Park Street.

    Comment by John — January 22, 2012 @ 9:57 am

  77. John NoLastName:

    There is no “now they are telling you it’s historic”. The “lines” were drawn back in 1982. Also, owners could have objected to their property being designated. Back to the topic at hand, when Habanas took occupancy, the building was a known historic part of the Park Street district.

    In the scheme of things, the City Council declaring that as of Jan 1, 2013, all condos in Alameda will be non-smoking is much more of a “now they are…” situation.

    Comment by Alan Teague — January 22, 2012 @ 10:35 am

  78. In 1982 it was a major sales pitch to the owners to be part of this and reasonable minds prevailed. They didn’t object because they didn’t think a Few Nail Nazis with their heads shoved up their kiester would ever bring it to the point it is now.

    Comment by John — January 22, 2012 @ 11:05 am

  79. In the United States, a historic district is a group of buildings, properties, or sites that have been designated by one of several entities on different levels as historically or architecturally significant. Buildings, structures, objects and sites within a historic district are normally divided into two categories, contributing and non-contributing. Districts greatly vary in size: some have hundreds of structures, while others have just a few.

    The U.S. federal government designates historic districts through the United States Department of Interior under the auspices of the National Park Service. Federally designated historic districts are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but listing imposes NNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOO restrictions on what property owners may do with a designated property.

    .

    Comment by John — January 22, 2012 @ 11:48 am

  80. Now I understand the ‘desire’ for no last name on your postings. It’s easier to be rude, crude and socially unacceptable that way, or at least that’s my opinion.

    Comment by Alan Teague — January 22, 2012 @ 11:50 am

  81. Driving a Business out of Town is alot more CRUDE and Rude In my opinion and a Hell of alot MORE Socially UNACCEPTABLE than anything I might say . But you are not really interested in what is right or Wrong and why Business are Leaving this State.

    Comment by John — January 22, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

  82. 80 “…for no last name on your postings. It’s easier to be rude, crude and socially unacceptable…”

    No it’s not.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 22, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

  83. 82. horse shit. it’s definitely easier to side step accountability or consequences.

    Comment by M.I. — January 22, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

  84. 83
    Cow poo, no it ain’t.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 22, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

  85. Seriously though, I’ve even forgotten what my real name is or which alias I’m using. I just write something and hit the ‘post comment’ button and voila, people are pissed.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 22, 2012 @ 6:13 pm

  86. This subject has sure gotten waaaay off course, by Angry John and cohorts. Remember, it’s a doorway we’re talking about. I agree with the above Nancy, Kevis, and Alan. If each person in Alameda wanted to change something, big or small, on their house or building to suit themselves, without oversight, the character of Alameda would be vastly changed. Nibble, nibble, nibble – it’s just a door, just aluminum windows, just a glaringly modern structure in the midst of old. Most of us chose, consciously or not, to come to Alameda because of it’s old charm. We are unique in the Bay Area where other cities have changed everything, modernized, so that they all look alike.
    Big glaring changes happened here in the 70’s with apartments in old residential neighborhoods, landfill with lagoons, etc. Fortunately that was halted with a city Measure voted in decades ago. A recent vote showed 85% of the voters did not want a developer to put thousands of housing units on the Naval Air Station.
    So I think it’s safe to say that most of the people who live here feel strongly about protecting our unique, irreplaceable character. Perhaps the type of person who regards it as “dumpy” would be happier living in a new development with track houses and strip malls. The rest of us appreciate what we have here, and want to preserve it.

    Comment by pb — January 23, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

  87. We all want a nice city, I think what is being said here is that sometimes boards or commissions can become unbalanced, and their majority start using their own opinions as to what something should look like rather than using the established policies of that board or commission. I reference the supreme court and their “citizens United decision”. Nothing wrong with a Supreme court as long as it does not become unbalanced. Remember we had a design review committee that was abolished because they substituted their own opinions over what their policies should have been.

    Comment by John P. — January 23, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

  88. I think the few Anal Retentives and Nail Nazis are Ruining our City and driving a Business Owner out.

    Who are really the Angry Ones. PB.

    Comment by John — January 23, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

  89. I think we were threatened by Nancy that changing of a simple doorway might ruin our reputation or standing with the Federal Standards for Historical Districts.

    Then I read

    The U.S. federal government designates historic districts through the United States Department of Interior under the auspices of the National Park Service. Federally designated historic districts are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but listing imposes NO RESTRICTIONS on what property owners may do with a designated property.

    We all want to keep this a Great City…..But lets get out of letting a few Run a Hula Hoop Concessions that handcuffs Property Owners and Business.

    Comment by John — January 23, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

  90. This is the way our city was built and has looked for well over one hundred years. You think that by trying to control modernization, some people are “ruining our city” – by trying to keep what we have? It is incorrect to say that architectural preservation drives business out. Conversely, the unique charm of our city brings people in. If a business owner or homeowner doesn’t like “old” with it’s conditions, why do they come here? To change it?

    Comment by pb — January 23, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

  91. While the Federal Registry does not specify restrictions, it is covered by the Historical Preservation Ordinance for the City of Alameda. As the Park Street District is a designated City Monument, section 13-21.5(b)(1) applies:

    1. Alterations. The Historical Advisory Board shall determine whether to issue a certificate of approval for repairs and alterations of Historical Monuments, with or without conditions of approval, based on whether plans and specifications meet the standards established by the Historical Advisory Board and the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for rehabilitation and guidelines for rehabilitating historic buildings.

    See http://www.nps.gov/hps/tps/standguide/rehab/rehab_standards.htm for those standards and more specifically http://www.nps.gov/hps/tps/standguide/rehab/rehab_entrances.htm

    Comment by Alan Teague — January 23, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

  92. 90, people come to a city like this for many reasons,they don’t know coming in that we may have a very strict interpretation of certain things. Once they get involved in the process of remodeling or starting a new business they quickly find out how hard it can become. That is when they would like to “change it” as you say. I dwelt with AAPS over 8 1/2 years on the planning board most of the time they made very good comments and were helpful, however there were times that I thought they were going way overboard on some issues. I think that most issues can be solved using consensus rather than just taking a majority stance.

    Comment by John P. — January 23, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

  93. “This is the way our city was built and has looked for well over one hundred years. ”

    Does Park Street really look like this now? Who is Kidding Who.

    Comment by John — January 23, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

  94. Take a closer look. The signage, awnings, and carriages are gone, but thank goodness the buildings are still mostly unchanged. Especially now that the trees are gone, we can see the buildings. This street would be blocks of high-rise cubes if no one had spoken up.

    Comment by pb — January 23, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

  95. PB

    Really…….And a New Doorway at Habanas will change the whole look and feel of Everything. Might want to check your prescription in those Rose Colored Glasses.

    Comment by John — January 23, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

  96. What was that big tower a part of? That’s way taller than anything on Park Street now.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 23, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

  97. I think that tower is part of the corner building on Alameda Av. Which dead-ends at Park.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 23, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

  98. Oops I thought you were referring to the first photo. Don’t know what the second photo tower is.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 23, 2012 @ 7:35 pm

  99. Based on the 1897 Sanborn map, the tower is probably the Artesian Water Works Tank Building and in 1932 it is labeled the Alameda Division of EBMUD. The closer ‘witches cap’ is a real estate and insurance office (1364 Park) and in 1932 it is labeled as a bank. By 1948, the EBMUD building is gone and the tower has been removed from 1364 Park. To the far left, you can see the Masonic Temple facade which gives the placement of the photo.

    Comment by Alan Teague — January 23, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

  100. The Picture is Park St Looking North in Alameda in 1916 according to the Source…..Alot has changed in less than 100 years…I have seen Park Street undergo many Changes Just in the 50+ years I have been here.

    Almost every storefront and doorway has changed with the exception of a few. Shops have expanded and retracted as business cycles change.

    The owners of Habanas are NOT leveling the building…..Read the room and get a Clue…..These are tough Economic Times and he is trying to do what is best to survive and thrive.

    Comment by John — January 23, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

  101. It looks to me that right to the left in the photo is Boniere Bakery and to the right is where Juanita cafe is now. The tower, I think is where BofA is now or could be one of the tower buildings.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 23, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

  102. Jack

    Assume you are looking up Park Street right at Starbucks

    http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=1364+park+street&rlz=1R2ADRA_enUS410&gs_upl=2015l8906l0l10531l16l11l0l5l5l0l219l1828l0.9.2l16l0&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&biw=971&bih=453&wrapid=tlif132738163342110&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x808f86bdff13dd0d:0xa4ef018216fc6b7b,1364+Park+St,+Alameda,+CA+94501&gl=us&ei=azweT9_JG6LZiQKXy-DoCw&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CB4Q8gEwAA

    Comment by John — January 23, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

  103. Type in 1366 Park street for better shot and then go up street. towards 1400 block

    Comment by John — January 23, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

  104. IDs for the buildings:
    93, first photo is looking south from Central and Park to Alameda Avenue and beyond. The building at the corner of Park and Alameda Ave is the Old Masonic Temple– Blue Danube is in the storefront currently. It appears all buildings shown on the west side of the street still exist today.
    93, second photo: this one is a little harder, but the location can be established as Park Street near Encinal Avenue looking north, because of the train station that can be seen on the left, or west side. This would be the Park Street south station and of course it is now gone. The tall tower on the east side of the street in the distance is indeed the Artesian Water Works building, demolished in 1955.
    95. from Park and Central looking north, the building on the corner is the former Bank of Alameda/Alameda Savings Bank – note corner entrance, and it is still there but has been vacant for a while. Bank of America you can barely see in the distance at Park and Santa Clara and it was built with columns, although not as many as it has now because they expanded to the next storefront. It was built as Citizen’s Bank in 1906 and was one of the city’s first concrete structures. Again, most of the buildings on the west side are still there (I am sure you must recognize Pampered Pup!). The Artesian Water Works address was 1412-1416 Park, so it was midblock.
    Aren’t you glad they undergrounded the utilities? Here is a picture from the same spot much later, looking like Park Street did when I moved here: http://alamedainfo.com/Park_Street_Alameda_CA_C28538.jpg Note that many of the buildings that had their transom windows covered up in the picture have had them uncovered again lately.
    Most information I found in Woody Minor’s book “Taking Care of Business”.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — January 25, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

  105. No, Kevis,I think the utility poles add much more character to the scene. The modern pictures look much more sterile, like a phony town trying to look old.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 25, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

  106. Kevis….Use a Dual Screen monitor and compare the pictures.

    You missed probably 4 Business cycles on Park Street since 1916

    Just pull out old Yearbooks and you can see the old Merchants and their Storefronts.

    Comment by John — January 25, 2012 @ 6:54 pm

  107. I’m pretty sure Pampered Pup added second floor and put in Apartments above in 1969 to 1971. Not positive .

    Comment by John — January 25, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

  108. 106: LOL I wasn’t intending to do a comprehensive review of changes, just fun to look at the same buildings in different dress.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — January 25, 2012 @ 10:24 pm


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