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UC Berkeley Gill Tract Development Approved by Albany Planning Commission

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday December 13, 2013 - 03:04:00 PM

A commercial development plan by the University of California at Berkeley that calls for a senior housing complex and a grocery store on a plot of land it owns in Albany has cleared a major hurdle.

The Albany Planning Commission voted 4-0 Wednesday night to approve the university's plan to have 175 units of senior housing, a Sprout's Farmers Market and two other retailers on 6.3 acres at San Pablo Avenue and Monroe Street, near the University Village student housing complex.

The site is also near the Gill Tract, another plot of university-owned land that's used by students and faculty of its College of Natural Resources for agricultural research.

The Gill Tract has been the site of protests the past two years by Occupy the Farm activists who say the tract should be used for sustainable community farming.

UC Berkeley officials say the parcel of land they plan to develop hasn't been farmed since World War II.

The university's plan has been in the works for six years and has been the subject of numerous hearings.  

City of Albany spokeswoman Nicole Almaguer said the Planning Commission's approval is the last step in the lengthy process but project opponents have 14 days to appeal the decision. 

Project opponents couldn't immediately be reached for comment.