Claremont Hotel

Confusion over whether or not the landmark Claremont Hotel & Spa’s historic status extends to its formerly landscaped grounds, a determination which has been clouding the preparation of the required Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed expansion of the club and addition of 43 condos and a single-family home upon said grounds, could soon be cleared up.

When landmarked by the City of Oakland in 2002, the hotel’s porte-cochere addition and grounds were specifically excluded from its landmark designation.

But 16 years before, an Oakland Cultural Heritage Survey had designated the entire 22-acre property as an “Area of Primary Importance,” a designation which technically qualifies the grounds as a “historical resource” per the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

In addition, a local preservation group known as the Berkeley/Oakland Neighbors of the Claremont (yes, BONC) nominated the landmarked hotel and 12-acres of “notable green areas” for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 2003.

And while the owners of the Claremont objected to its formal listing on the national register, the Keeper of the NRHP determined the nomination was “eligible for NRHP listing,” a designation which doesn’t require owner consent but qualifies the hotel and associated 12-acres as “historical resources” for the purposes of CEQA as well.

To quote a recently completed draft Historic Resource Evaluation (HRE) for the property, “the series of separate historic property evaluations and designations that were previously completed for all or parts of the Claremont property under various national, state, and local designation programs, which resulted in different and sometimes conflicting findings…has resulted in a clouded understanding of the historic significance and the qualified historical resource(s) that currently exist on the property.”

While the HRE has confirmed that the hotel building itself remains a historic resource, it has also concluded that the setting and grounds around the hotel have been altered to the point that, as a whole, the “entire property lacks [the] integrity to be considered a contributing [historic] resource.”

And perhaps most importantly, the hotel’s Auto Court and Drive, upon which the majority of the development is proposed to occur but is included within those aforementioned 12 acres of associated historical resources, was specifically found to have been “altered to a degree that they no longer convey their historical significance.”

The draft HRE will be presented to Oakland’s Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board next week for review and comment. And once finalized, the HRE’s findings should serve to clarify exactly which historical resources need to be taken into account for the purposes of CEQA and allow the preparation of the proposed project’s impact report to move forward.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Sassy

    The grounds have been altered beyond any historical significance other than being somewhat open space.

    My hope is a balance is found between developing some of it to fund the upgrade of the remaining open space.

  2. Posted by Jake

    Might be wise to wait until after the next big one to build housing directly on top of the Hayward Fault. No one could have predicted ….

    • Posted by pablito

      Yep. Putting housing right on top of one of the most dangerous faults in the country qualifies as stupid land use planning.

  3. Posted by E. Gonsalves

    Interesting how this hotel markets itself as “Berkeley” when clearly as shown by the agencies dealing with the proposed development, the hotel is in Oakland. The surrounding high end Oakland residential real estate also markets itself as “Berkeley” due to a shared Berkeley zip code.

      • Posted by Occupied in Oakland

        Those stupid lists of what right-leaning white, upper middle class people think of the US. Speaking to reputations… If all of Oakland’s assets were accredited to her, then that reputation would be better. Just like if all of SF’s faults were assessed to it, then that reputation would be far worse. I imagine a lot fewer transplants would think the two places are polar opposites.

        • Posted by E. Gonsalves

          Exactly, we have people well within Oakland city limits pretending they are in Berkeley. Same thing for the 1 mile stretch of College Avenue in Oakland which extends from Broadway all the way to Alcatraz Avenue. How many people who go to Zacharys or other restaurants in this Oakland neighborhood make believe they’re in “Berkeley.” The Oakland City Council should show some pride in the North Oakland hills and make sure the Claremont Hotel along with the wealthy Oakland homeowners nearby stop advertising their properties as “Berkeley” when they are clearly in Oakland. Oakland needs to bring that neighborhood into the 94618 Oakland zip code so that these people can advertise their properties accurately.

          • Posted by Salzigtal

            I’m surprised there isn’t an MLS neighborhood “Berkeley Post Office” (Oakland) to go with “Los Altos Post Office” (Cupertino) and the grandparent of them all “Beverly Hills Post Office” (Los Angeles). I still remember how hard I laughed when I asked “What the h _ _ _ does BHPO mean?”

      • Posted by E. Gonsalves

        Interesting that “Berkeley’s” most expensive real estate is actually located in the Claremont Hills neighborhood of Oakland. Oakland is by far the greater city.

      • Posted by Mark

        A+? LMAO! This one takes the gluten-free cake! Berkeley…such a joyful, (un)clean downtown, bustling with (criminal) activity and residents soaking in the sun (urine/feces). All yours, folks. All yours.

    • Posted by jwb

      Many people are surprised by the extent of Oakland. One example of something “in Berkeley” that’s in Oakland is the UC Botanical Garden, and all that territory behind Cal stadium for that matter.

      • Posted by E. Gonsalves

        Exactly, you can kick a field goal through the South goal posts in Memorial Stadium at CAL and have it land in Oakland. That’s how close Oakland is to CAL. The boundaries actually go much further north on Grizzly Peak. The Oak city line goes near the Lawrence Hall of Science.

        • Posted by Notcom

          Not quite Columbus: ignoring the (apparently not obvious to everyone) fact that the boundary runs parallelish to the field, not perpendicular to it, it’s actually a fair distance away…that the Bot Garden is in Oakland is more a testament to the size of UC’s property than how close Oakland City Limits is to the campus.

          Now if only Cal scoring wasn’t such a theoretical point…

          • Posted by E. Gonsalves

            Check Panoramic Way.

  4. Posted by Tim E

    I’m just confused on why they [think] adding housing is a good plan. Maybe someone can correct me, but [isn’t] the part that is considered significant where they want to put the housing? Wouldn’t they rather add more rooms and conference space? Just not understanding the premium of having a house within a gated hotel community. Might work in FL beach resort/gated community, but Claremont?

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