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Comment: Put New Library at Old Safeway

Our article on reuse of the Portola Middle School site gave rise to several comments this week on relocating the El Cerrito library to the old Safeway site. We've selected two as our Comments of the Week.

Comment: Put New Library at Old Safeway

We never quite know which direction the reader comments on our articles will take. One unexpected discussion arose this past week in the reader comments on our April 4 article about reuse of the old Portola Middle School site, "" Following a suggestion to rebuild the city's cramped library at the Portola site, Kathy A. suggested putting the library in the abandoned Safeway building on San Pablo Avenue at Moeser Lane, an idea that sparked several comments, including two selected as our Comments of Week. One is a follow-up by Mike and the other is a further follow-up by Kathy A.


Rebuilding the library from the ground up at the old Safeway site is a great idea. The "no grocery" lease restrictions and the rough environment for big-box retailers pretty much relegate the existing big box to being a vacant eyesore for the foreseeable future, and a waste of business and community potential for the immediate area.

A new library could anchor a new small retail / small business hub at the site. The ample parking and transit proximity (including the bike/ped trails on the greenway) make the site widely accessible. The library will provide resources for children, students, families, adults and seniors. Perhaps it could provide free WIFI for the complex. The complex could include a coffee shop to complement other nearby eateries. A new co-working space (for the many telecommuters and freelancers in the area) would work well with the library (as well as co-located H&R Block and the copy shop in the complex across Moeser), and perhaps an adjacent play area would help folks be able to get some work or studying done while still keeping an eye on the kids. Perhaps some sort of youth oriented game room would help keep part of the family occupied or serve as a way to take a break from work or studying. If cvs did move out, someone else to provide business / school supply staples would be compatible with these uses. Roma pizza would probably end up getting a lot more business.

Kathy A.

love these ideas! the safeway location really is ideal for a library/community hub -- very accessible. the current library is very cramped, not up to date, not really on the beaten path for attracting customers and easy access, and parking is iffy.

wonderful ideas about amenities for the library. mike, say more about this "co-working" space you have in mind-- part of the library, or a private venture? is it possible for the library to offer maybe some small private spaces for research, work, meetings at a reasonable fee for those of us who need someplace? it would be great to have something like a small private cube sometimes, and a conference room on call for a fee.

great ideas about compatible businesses that might share the site -- something like fenton's! coffee/bakery/salad bar! business/school supplies, and maybe convenience items!

part of my thought is that it is easier and less expensive to retrofit from an existing building. the interior can be completely redesigned; the exterior can be renovated; there can even be add-ons; but skipping the complete demo and complete rebuild parts of the process are to the good. (remember how long it took to demolish and rebuild ECHS? and how long it will take to get the portola students out of portables?)

  • Editor's note: We welcome reader comments on our articles. The "Comment of the Week" doesn't necessarily reflect the view of El Cerrito Patch. It's chosen according to what we believe will be of general reader interest. For other examples from our "Comment of the Week" series, please click .

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