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A Richmond Weekend

·         The Point Richmond music Festival zoomed past previous attendance records with two crowd-pleasing performances on Friday evening.  (See Point Richmond Music Festival Kicks Off 8th Season This Friday, June 13, June 8, 2008). The newly opened  Royal Oak British Pub and Restaurant  (formerly The Baltic) was packed after the show and featured something new to Richmond, Celtic music.

·         I stopped by the Richmond Greenway near Lincoln School Saturday morning where Berryland and the Lincoln School farm are going gangbusters during the monthly workday. For information about this project, contact Urban Tilth, which cultivates urban agriculture in West Contra Costa County to help our community build a more sustainable, healthy, and just food system. Urban Tilth works with schools, community-based organizations, government agencies, businesses, and individuals to develop the capacity to produce 5% of our own food supply. Learn more at http://5percentlocal.blogspot.com  or www.urbantilth.org.












·         I also visited the Open Aire Market at Catahoula Coffee where members of the 5% Local Coalition were selling West County produce, cut flowers, seedlings, and worm castings. Catahoula Coffee is located at 12472 San Pablo Avenue (cross street is Clinton) in Richmond. Grand Finale Florist, Liane's Cake and Kitchen and other local vendors/artists were also selling their goods. I dropped off some of my honey for Richmond High School students to sell at their fundraiser.


·         Speaking of Catahoula Coffee, they were featured in the Chronicle as the East Bay’s premium coffee roaster. Story below:

Catahoula Coffee Co. & Roastery

The East Bay's Catahoula isn't completely on the single-origin, meet-the-farmer bandwagon of today's new wave of roasters, but it's a welcome community spot offering quality small-batch coffee, often organic and fair trade.

Owner Timber Manhart started the cafe last year not only because he loved coffee, but also because he also wanted to create a gathering space.

"I got tired of driving 5 miles to get a good cup of coffee. This area needs a community," he says. "There is a void in Richmond, and Richmond's the last affordable place that you can commute to the city in a reasonable amount of time."

He rebuilt the store from the ground up, adding a curved bamboo coffee bar, custom cabinetry and hardwood floors.

While learning to roast, Manhart says, he started geeking out on all the information shared online. In a nod to trends, he has a no-char symbol on his menu - in other words, he roasts beans with a lighter hand than large roasters.

When it comes to selecting coffees, Manhart supports coffee growers in troubled areas like Rwanda, if he can get the beans shipped to him.

Where to find: Catahoula Coffee Co. & Roastery, 12472 San Pablo Ave. (at Clinton), Richmond; (510) 235-0525. Usually open 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. weekends. Coffee can also be ordered through www.catahoulacoffee.com.

Biggest seller: Lola Blend ($10 per pound).

Bonus: Hosts live music and community events such as the Open Air Market on Saturday, with local vendors in the parking lot behind the cafe from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Friday, June 13, 2008


·         Naomi Torres (New Chief of Interpretation at Richmond's National Park Selected
October 25, 2007) sent the following interview of Rosies at Richmond’s Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park on National Public Radio:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91519320&sc=emaf. When you visit the link above, look for a "Listen" or "Watch" button.For technical support, please visit NPR's Audio/Video Help page:http://www.npr.org/help/media.html.


·         The Ford Assembly Plant is part of Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park, and one of its “green” tenants, Vetrazzo, is going national:


Richmond countertop maker Vetrazzo expands to national production

East Bay Business Times - by Mavis Scanlon

Vetrazzo LLC, whose eco-friendly recycled glass countertops were touted by actor and environmentalist Ed Begley Jr. last month on television's "Tonight Show," is boosting production and going national.

The production increase comes despite the virtual halt in new home construction as a result of the housing crisis, which has also put a large drag on the home remodeling market.

"Our game plan is to grow in a very controlled way," said John Sabol, vice president of manufacturing.

The Richmond manufacturer, which opened a new production facility in the refurbished Ford Assembly Building at Ford Point in October 2007, increased production this spring, and by mid-summer expects to double it. The company declined to publicly disclose its exact production numbers. But between July and December of this year, Vetrazzo expects to use a total of 1,100 tons of recycled glass in its operations, according to Vetrazzo President James Sheppard. That is up from 300 tons in all of 2007.

·         June 12 was the groundbreaking for Macdonald Avenue improvements, The following story is from Friday’s West County Times:

Efforts to revive Richmond's 'Main Street' move forward

By Katherine Tam
West County Times

Article Launched: 06/13/2008 07:27:20 PM PDT

RICHMOND — New street lights, benches, trees, trash containers and wider sidewalks are destined for the west end of Richmond's Macdonald Avenue as plans to revitalize the city's once vibrant "Main Street" continue.

Officials hope sprucing up the corridor and adding new housing will infuse energy into the center of town and lure others to invest as well.

"All this activity is very important in getting more private-sector investment," said Steve Duran, the city's community and economic development director. "They are more willing to go into it once they see we're making all these improvements for the better."

Crews began work this week from Harbour Way to 19th Street, with flaggers directing traffic through a series of orange cones. Once work is complete in April 2009, they will move onto the next stretch from Harbour Way to Garrard Boulevard, said Jacqueline Vaca, economic development assistant.

The work, which will also include drainage improvements, is expected to cost a combined $15.9 million.

The first round of these streetscape improvements was added to the east end of the corridor last year. The final segment from 19th to 39th streets is estimated at $6.9 million and is in the design stage.

City officials are pumping millions into projects along Macdonald Avenue, once the main commercial corridor before its rapid decline after Hilltop Mall opened to the north. A number of vacant and boarded-up buildings now dot the span.

Among the projects along Macdonald Avenue:

·  On the east end: Construction continues on a 140,000-square-foot Target that will anchor a retail center where the old Montgomery Ward store stood for four decades before it closed in 2000. Target is slated to open July 23.

·  To the west: Workers are repairing roofs, making seismic upgrades and installing heating and air conditioning systems as part of the $101 million Civic Center renovation. City employees vacated City Hall in 2003 because the building was not seismically sound. In May 2006, police abandoned the adjacent Hall of Justice which suffers from leaks, mold and asbestos. Employees could move back into the refurbished City Hall as early as February 2009.

·  At the new multitransit station: Where commuters connect to BART, Amtrak, Caltrain and Golden Gate Transit, officials are pulling together the paperwork for a new 800-space parking garage and plan to put the project out to bid next July. Completing the parking garage is key because it will free up the parking lot on the east end of the station, paving the way for at least 100 new housing units.

The planned $110 million transit village is slated to carry more than 200 homes and 27,000 square feet of retail. Residents in 2004 began moving into some of the 132 town houses that made up the first housing phase.

·  Between 3rd and 5th streets: Work on the 66-unit Macdonald Place Senior Housing began in late December. Rain caused some delays a few months ago, but construction is moving forward.

·  6th Street: Reconstruction of Nevin Park continues behind the chain-link fence. The $2.8 million project includes two new fields, playground features, lighting, seating areas, walkways and a redesign to better link the community center to the park.

·  11th Street: Renovation of the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in the historic Winters Building is slated to begin early next year. The $10.5 million project will include a seismic retrofit, two new theaters, more classroom and performance space for the community and restoration of the historic facade, said Jordan Simmons, artistic director.

Programs and performances are expected to move to the Richmond Memorial Auditorium during the renovation, Simmons added.

·  Between 11th and 13th streets: Efforts to build 237 condominiums with more than 24,000 square feet of retail space have struck a hurdle, Duran said. The city is working with developer A.F. Evans to secure financing, a step that has become challenging as the housing market and economy continue to sag.

Reach Katherine Tam at 510-262-2787 or ktam@bayareanewsgroup.com.