Op-Ed: Demolishing the Berkeley Cinema to Build Luxury High-Rise Apartments

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By Harry Brill

 

Six members of the Berkeley City Council approved on Tuesday, Dec. 8 a major development project in the downtown Shattuck Avenue area, south of University Avenue.

 

Councilmembers Max Anderson, Jesse Arreguin and Kris Worthington voted against it. The council decision will be very costly to small businesses and their employees. We will certainly see as a result of the development project an escalation of bankruptcies and layoffs.

 

Here’s why. One piece of the development project is the construction of an 18-story, luxury high-rise apartment building. To do so, the developer will demolish the 10-screen Berkeley Cinema.

 

That is, of course, the equivalent of closing 10 movie houses.

 

The Berkeley Cinema attracts up to several thousand moviegoers every week. Many of these moviegoers enjoy dinner or desert downtown, and they also shop at the many business establishments in the area.

 

The net business volume that will be lost as a result of demolishing the movie house will be substantial.

 

Even though the vote has already been taken, it is still important to let the council members know how you feel. Remaining silent will encourage the City Council to support other luxury construction projects at the expense of low- and middle-income residents.

 

The grim reality is that the appetites of the big developers and the financial institutions that provide capital are insatiable.

 

The following email address will reach Mayor Bates and all the other Council members: [email protected]

 

Also, please keep in mind the different perspectives of the two city council members who will be running next year for mayor. Laurie Capitelli, who often votes conservatively, supports this project including the demolition of the movie house. Jesse Arreguin, on the other hand, voted to reject the project.

 

No doubts about it that Jesse really and seriously cares about small business and jobs.

 

If you would like to write these council members a personal note to let them know what is on your mind, here are their email addresses: [email protected] and [email protected]

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