Apartments, retail space proposed for new building at South Auburn and Berryman streets |

Apartments, retail space proposed for new building at South Auburn and Berryman streets

An architectural rendering of a mixed-use building proposed for the corner of South Auburn and Berryman streets in Grass valley.
Courtesy City of Grass Valley

A long-vacant lot at the corner of South Auburn and Berryman streets has been proposed for a two-and-a-half story building combining retail or office space and larger apartments targeted at families.

Owner Jeff Kekemian and architect Robert Wallis took the proposal to Grass Valley’s Development Review Committee for an initial review Tuesday. The project includes three office/retail spaces of 1,000 square feet on the ground floor and four 1,400-square-foot apartments with two or three bedrooms and two bathrooms on the top floors.

The building as currently designed fronts South Auburn Street with a 12-foot setback, and a parking lot in the back accessed from Berryman Street.

But that orientation poses a problem for fire engine access, Planner Lance Lowe told the project applicants. Trucks would not be able to access the top stories from South Auburn Street due to overhead utilities, and cannot navigate Berryman Street because it is not wide enough.

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Two possible options were offered to solve the problem: underground the utilities, or move the building to the back of the lot and place the parking in front. While it could be expensive, Kekemian at the end of the meeting said he was leaning toward the undergrounding option.

“The goal is to maximize the potential use for this small parcel,” Wallis told the committee members.

Of the Craftsman-styled building, Wallis said he wanted it to have a “timeless” feel with a subdued natural color scheme.

“This is a nice infill project for the location,” commented Senior Civil Engineer Zackary Lake, noting the applicants need to submit preliminary grading plans. Other recommendations included removing a driveway approach on the north side.

“I highly recommend a neighborhood meeting,” Community Development Director Tom Last said, adding that a prior proposal from more than a decade ago had been controversial.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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