Tesla opens West Berkeley service center 18 months after application to zoning board

Large metal building with the word "TESLA" on it in large letters.
Maya Valluru/Staff

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On Monday, Tesla opened a 46,000-square-foot service center in Berkeley, just 18 months after submitting an application to the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board, as first reported by Berkeleyside.

Located at 901 Gilman St., the service center takes the place of what was once Pyramid Brewery and Alehouse, which closed its doors in 2015. The center is housed in the 115,000-square-foot former Pyramid building in West Berkeley, which houses various businesses, such as Blue Bottle Coffee and Starter Bakery, according to Berkeleyside.

While the center currently has more than 20 employees, the zoning board application states that the company plans to hire approximately 33 employees, which would result in the creation of well-paying jobs that do not require advanced degrees.

According to the application, the project is consistent with the district’s zoning standards and the 1993 West Berkeley Plan. The property is located far from residential areas and near auto repair facilities and I-80, which provides efficient vehicle access.

ASUC External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay says she expects that the center will not impact housing or cause effects other than an increase in Tesla cars in Berkeley.

“I don’t anticipate this service center impacting housing, given that it is located in the already-multi-use Pyramid building,” Khalfay said. “I don’t see any major issues with this project, other than perhaps an increased influx of Tesla cars in West Berkeley en route to and from the center.”

According to the zoning board application, a traffic study prepared by Fehr & Peers in August 2017 said the center would generate 90 fewer trips in the peak hours of the morning and 80 fewer trips in the peak hours at night than the permitted use, manufacturing, would have at the site. Thus, the Tesla staff does not expect that the center will cause safety concerns or a significant increase in traffic.

In its application to the zoning board, Tesla states that it expects to service 20 to 25 vehicles per day, the majority of which will be serviced and picked up within the same day. The ground floor includes a new main vehicle entrance, a vehicle drop-off area, several service stations and five parking lifts.

In an interview with Berkeleyside, Chris Carroll, manager of the service center, said there would be no charging stations at the location because of space constraints.

According to Carroll in his interview with Berkeleyside, the nearest service centers to Berkeley before this new site opened were in San Rafael, Dublin and downtown San Francisco. There is a “super charging station” for Tesla cars, which can charge cars up to 70 percent within 30 minutes, in Alameda and one that is being planned in Emeryville.

Contact Jenny Weng at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jennyweng1999.