Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sunnyside Safeway renovation

Last year, we wrote the following letter regarding the proposed renovation to the Monterey Boulevard Safeway in Sunnyside. Later, I noticed the information posters came down in the Safeway, and I could not find more information the project for a while (perhaps I was not searching for the right words on the internet, though). I noticed recently that the renovation posters are back up at the Safeway and took a couple photos so I wouldn't lose the link again.

It appears that the proposal has been scaled down significantly which is terrible news. If our neighborhood is going to endure significant construction impacts, we should at least get a good project out of it. I stand by my suggestions below. Apparently Safeway's architect did not get my message. I strongly and respectfully urge them to take this design back to the drawing board. Good examples for inspiration are the Whole Foods on Ocean and the under-construction Safeway in Rockridge.

Sent: Wed, April 10, 2013
Subject: Monterey Safeway

Dear ...

I live a 4-minute walk from the Safeway, and I shop there several times a week. I understand the issue at stake right now is the trucking route, but I don't have an opinion about that other than from a practical standpoint -- Monterey Blvd is the most direct route and is only congested during commute hours. Phelan is congested with pedestrians, cars and cyclists most of the day. Midday-only
delivery would make the most sense on Monterey Blvd.

That said, I'm dismayed by the proposed design of the new Safeway. It is suburban-looking and automobile-centric. I bought my house in Sunnyside, instead of the East Bay, because I wanted to stay in the City. I want my daughter to grow up in a pedestrian-friendly, safe environment that is inviting and vibrant to walk, bike, and ride transit. Economic vitality follows good urban design --
Safeway will bring in more business if it is inviting to walk into.

* The parking should be all but completely invisible.
* The side of the store against the sidewalk should be completely transparent (windows).
* The building should be mixed-use -- preferably with housing on top. Other storefronts to lease in the building would be even better.
* The main entrance to the Safeway should be from the Sidewalk.
* The front of the building should be varied and not monolithic -- as should the top of the building.
* The design should allow for a relationship between the sidewalk and the store, for example, sidewalk tables and/or tables/chairs that look out onto the sidewalk.

I could go on, but I think that's enough for now. The construction impacts of this project on our neighborhood will be significant. I don't think the project is worth doing -- no matter how ugly the Safeway is now -- unless the outcome will be beautiful and inviting for pedestrian shoppers. I understand you must have gone through a process with the community already, but many of the houses have turned over in the past few years, and we, the new residents, want an urban, rather than suburban, design for the Safeway.

Thank you.

Sunnyside resident

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