Now that most neighborhood concerns have been alleviated, a first-of-its-kind disabled center appears headed for city approval.
“I’m glad it’s progressing this way, said Don Hubbard, a member of the Bartview Neighborhood Association, a group that had attacked the original size of the proposed center. “Each time we raised a concern, they have addressed it.”
The $35 million project, known as the Ed Roberts Campus (ERC), would house nine disabled advocacy groups in a development on the east parking lot of the Ashby BART station.
The campus was conceived in 1995 to allow the disabled community to conveniently center their services at one location, near public transportation, so residents could enjoy easy access to them, explained ERC Project Manager Caleb Dardick.
“This is one–stop shopping,” Dardick said, adding that, among other services, disabled residents could come to the center for job training, recreation, physical care and legal advice.
The current plan which has squelched most neighborhood opposition calls for an 80,000-square-foot, two–story building on the eastern Ashby BART parking lot along Adeline Street.
An underground parking garage will be built to offset the lost BART parking spaces. Additionally, the entry ramp to the parking lot will be moved from its present location on Woolsey Street to the more popular Adeline. The change was designed to appease neighbors who feared that the estimated 100 daily campus users would clog residential streets.
The revised plan presented this summer is a far cry from ERC’s first design– a 130,000-square-foot, three-story building with ground-floor shops.
That plan sparked a backlash from neighbors, who complained that three stories was too high and that the plan did not effectively deal with traffic and parking issues.
To meet neighborhood concerns, architects drastically reduced the scope of the project, eliminating ground-floor retail and a planned gymnasium.
Most neighbors say the two year back and forth process paid off.
“We’re happy to have been part of the decision making process,” Hubbard said. “I think this will be an overall improvement for the neighborhood.”
Still a few obstacles remain. At a recent Design Review Commission meeting, neighbors noted that the underground parking lot might uproot redwood trees planted in the 1970s.
Claudia Merzaril, an architect at San Francisco-based Leddy, Maydum & Stacey, said she will unveil a new parking garage plan later this month to spare most of the more mature trees that provide shade to neighbors.
Merzaril is also being asked to improve the look of the building, which some residents say is too modern. “It looks like it’s sitting on a runway ready to take off,” said Francis Emley, who supports the campus.
The project is set to return to the Design Review Commission on Nov. 21. If it is approved, it will then go before the Zoning Adjustment Board for a construction permit.
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