2720 Hillegass Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705
This is a Measure T1 Phase 2 project.
Willard Clubhouse replacement project appeared before the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) on April 27, 2023 for a Use Permit and consideration of a variance to reduce the rear setback of the main building from 20’ to 16’ to preserve more of the existing lawn on the north side of the building, and for approval for a new accessory structure (a new public restroom). The Use Permit was approved by ZAB, and an appeal was filed on May 23rd, 2023. The project is scheduled for a public hearing at City Council on July 24th, 2023 for a final determination.
Upon approval by the Berkeley City Council, the project will complete design and submit for building permit. The status of the Zoning Project Application and Building Permits can be found at Parcel Conditions and Permit History.
Construction is anticipated to commence in Fiscal Year 2024.
The community engagement process included facilitated discussions with residents, stakeholders, user groups, and families participating in programs offered at Willard Clubhouse, and City of Berkeley staff. From October of 2019 to October of 2021, a series of 5 in-person and virtual community meetings with staff were held to gather input and hear about the needs and concerns of the community. Community and stakeholder meetings, workshops, and surveys took place between September 2019 and October 2021.
Please see Past Events and Documents below for more information on the previously held community meetings.
Clubhouse and Project Background
Built in 1971, the Willard Clubhouse is located at the southeast corner of Willard Park at 2720 Hillegass Avenue, between Derby Street and Stuart Street. The small 565 SF one-story, one-room clubhouse has long been a staple of Berkeley’s after-school and summer day camp programs, with each program serving a maximum of 45 elementary school aged children.
Enrollment for both the after-school and summer day camp programs quickly reach the maximum capacity every year with a typical waitlist of approximately 25 children. Occupancy of the existing clubhouse is limited, therefore in order to accommodate 45 children, staff makes use of the adjacent covered patio, as well as the outside open lawn area to run activities and programs. Additionally, the large open lawn area makes the clubhouse and park a suitable location for the City’s recreation staff to host events such as the Annual Spring Egg Hunt Extravaganza.
Willard Park is a valuable resource for the neighborhood, and the community has expressed that Willard Clubhouse is long overdue for an update to meet the evolving needs of the entire community.
In the spring of 2019, the City of Berkeley selected ELS Architecture and Urban Design, a local firm, to provide professional architectural design services for the Willard Clubhouse and Restroom Replacement Project. Together with the City, the project team set out to design a new Willard Clubhouse that would meet the City’s program needs and also be sustainable, modern, accessible, and multi-generational.
In October 2021, the final conceptual design for the new Willard Clubhouse and Restrooms was presented to the community. The design was for a 4,195 SF all electric, multi-purpose recreation building and featured a lobby, all gender restrooms, an office, kitchen, a 790 SF community room, and a larger 1,570 SF community room with a divisible wall to split the space into two smaller rooms.
The site plan on page 15 of the October 28th, 2021 community meeting presentation shows the new building with a 20’ minimum required rear setback. Over the course of the community engagement period, members of the community expressed concern with expanding the clubhouse and its impact to open space. In response to the feedback from the community regarding preservation of lawn space, the project team has requested a variance to reduce the minimum 20’ rear setback to 16’ which would reduce the impacted lawn space.
From October 2021 to May 2022, the project team developed a schematic design package for the new Willard Clubhouse and Restrooms, and prepared a Zoning Project Application that included the request for a 16’ rear setback variance. The application package was submitted to the City of Berkeley Land Use and Planning Division in June 2022.
Due to a sharp increase in construction costs, 15% in 2021 and another anticipated 10% in 2022, the cost estimate for the preferred plan for the new Willard Clubhouse has escalated the total project budget to over $8.0M. $7.0M of funding was identified in Phase 2 of T1, the City’s $100M Bond Measure passed in 2016. In response to the unanticipated increase, the project was reduced in size and scope.
The revised design reduces the building area to 3,285 SF. In lieu of three community rooms, comprising approximately 2,360 SF of activity space, the new community building will include one, divisible community room comprising approximately 1,700 SF and a new separate public restroom on the west side of the park. All other features will remain. The revised design provides an opportunity to create a multi-purpose outdoor plaza to the east of the building, similar in size to the existing outdoor plaza.
Willard Clubhouse Community Meeting, October 2021
October 28, 2021 3 DocumentsDocumentDocumentDocument
Willard Clubhouse Community Meeting, August 2021
August 14, 2021 4 DocumentsDocumentDocumentDocumentDocument
Willard Clubhouse Community Meeting, July 2021
July 1, 2021 4 DocumentsDocumentDocumentDocumentDocument