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Meeting Today for Gilman Gateway in Northwest Berkeley, Alameda County

Gilman Gateway aerial massing, illustration by Perkins&WillGilman Gateway aerial massing, illustration by Perkins&Will

The Berkeley Planning Commission is scheduled to review plans today for the potential development of a collection of properties spanning 8.2-acre property in Northwest Berkeley, Alameda County. The preliminary plans suggest the construction of nearly a million square feet serving the region’s growing appetite for life sciences. Perkins&Will is responsible for the masterplan design.

Gilman Gateway phasing for construction, illustration by Perkins&Will

Gilman Gateway phasing for construction, illustration by Perkins&Will

The Gilman Gateway property contains the former Pacific Steel Casting and the Berkeley Forge and Tools sites. The former filed for bankruptcy in 2018, while the latter is in the process of closing operations. With this large chunk of land freeing up, the city sees this as “an opportunity to build on the history of research, development, and manufacturing in West Berkeley and will bring the next era of innovation in life sciences to Berkeley.”

The current application is filing for the rezoning of approximately 10.2 acres to accommodate life sciences and for the city to initiate the environmental review process for CEQA. The 15 parcels will switch from Manufacturing to Mixed Use-Light Industrial zoning if approved. The use permit and Design Review project are being left for a future application.

Gilman Gateway, image via Google Satellite

Gilman Gateway, image via Google Satellite

Perkins&Will is responsible for designing the master plan and approximate massings. The project design is split between three blocks designed to look like several more, ranging in height from 25 to 50 and as high as 104 feet. Around 890,080 square feet of new floor area will be complete, as well as a jaw-dropping capacity for 1,850 cars across three garages.

The city has published the following history for the Gilman Gateway property:

Established in 1934 and owned for more than 80 years by the Genger and Delsol families, PSC declared bankruptcy in 2014. Prior to that, a worker class action lawsuit was filed in 2011 against the company for wage theft.

1. In 2014, the company was purchased by Speyside Equity for $11.3 million. Until that time, the company had been generating $100 million in sales annually. Speyside turned the assets of PSC into a limited liability company and pledged to honor the collective bargaining agreements with the union representing the workers, including assuming pension liabilities and paying workers’ health benefits.

2. The new company, Pacific Steel Casting LLC, however, failed to pay those benefits in part due to growing financial insecurity prompted by plummeting gas and oil prices which limited the need for production, and in part due to increased competition from China. It was also later discovered that Speyside used suspect financial practices that further drove the company into the ground.

3. According to reporting from Berkeleyside, “The Speyside Fund, Speyside Equity, Alcast Company of Illinois, various business partners and managers, ‘looted’ $14.5 million from the West Berkeley company over a four-year period, and justified the siphoning off by ‘cooking’ the books, according to the action filed by Sarah L. Little, the bankruptcy trustee.”

4. These legal entanglements encumber the land for any potential buyers, as it is predicted it will take between $27 to $30 million to make the workers and all the past creditors whole. This is in addition to the costs it will take for the environmental remediation of the property.

​​The site overlooks I-580 to the expansive Berkeley marina open space. The property is close to the Golden Gate Field in Albany. The Berkeley Amtrak Station is about twenty minutes away by foot. The station is serviced by Capitol Corridor and is adjacent to a relatively dense cluster of retail and restaurants.

Gilman Gateway site map, illustration by Perkins&Will

Gilman Gateway site map, illustration by Perkins&Will

Berkeley has published a Notice of Preparation, accepting public comment before working on the Environmental Impact Report. For those interested in providing comments or questions to the city that will help inform the environment review process, submit a comment to Ashley James of the City of Berkeley from now until February 27th.

The Planning Commission meeting is scheduled to start today, Wednesday, February 1st, beginning at 7 PM. For more information about how to attend and participate, see the meeting agenda packet here.

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1 Comment on "Meeting Today for Gilman Gateway in Northwest Berkeley, Alameda County"

  1. It’ll pair nicely with the reconstructed intersection with roundabouts!

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