Sonic boom on the horizon?

Jan. 5 UPDATE: The Sonic is set to open. They’ve already served some food on a limited basis, as part of employee training. I’m getting a tour of the place tomorrow for a weekend story, and the official grand opening will be either Monday or Tuesday.

Have you heard? After years of being subjected to its arguably clever commercials, Hayward residents will soon get to sample the Hot Fudge Shakes, Coney Dog & Tots, and Xtra-long Bacon Cheddar Cheese Steaks that come along with a Sonic Burger Drive-In.

The sign is up at the Fairway Park shopping center, and a wooden frame is rising at the former Arby’s site, 31187 Mission Blvd. While the official Bay Area Sonic Web site states a December opening, we contacted Rashid Cinos, the man behind the new Sonic.

“It’s a bit too early to touch bases,” Cinos said. “Give me two weeks. By then we should have some immediate milestones, a better idea of when we will be opening.”

Will do, Mr. Cinos. Last we heard, there was some design modification that had to be completed to make the site appropriate for the Sonic business model, which is carhop-style fast-food, with no indoor sit-down restaurant.

Jon Fong shot us an e-mail seeking more information about what he says is “quite some news” for a lot of people, at least his peers, who have been tantalized by the commercials but denied easy Sonic access.

Read Jon’s thoughts and more after the jump.

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Downtown Hayward nightclub: Boon or bust?

Anyone care to weigh in on the prospect of a restaurant and nightclub in downtown Hayward? The idea is going before the Planning Commission tomorrow night, and they will make a recommendation one way or another for the City Council, who will have the final word.

Officials and the owner of the building say it’s a very exciting prospect and a good fit for the area, bringing in additional nightlife as well as providing a family restaurant during the day and most nights. There are also plans to host community-oriented events on Sundays, such as poetry readings and talent shows. 

Club managers are reportedly planning on spending upwards of $1 million to polish up the venue, which sits next to Newman Park. The building owner envisions opening up the brick wall that faces the park, with windows overlooking the greenery.

However, A CommPre director fears the worst, that clientele of a hip-hop/R&B club would scare people away from the area on Friday and Saturday nights. She said it would be like having Kumbala in the middle of downtown, and that Newman Park would suffer the ignobleness of drunken club patrons who would use it as a restroom or worse.

The Review will attend tomorrow night’s meeting to see if the proposal spurs debate, but we’d love to hear what HayWord readers think.


Hayward P.O.’s still on chopping block

The latest list of potential post office closures, released earlier this month, still includes the historic downtown Hayward Bradford branch as well as the little Mt. Eden facility. When they first announced the possible closures in the summer, it included nearly 700 branches nationwide. That was whittled down to 413 in August, now 371. Also still on the list are the Niles and Mission San Jose branches in Fremont, as well as branches in Richmond, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco and San Pablo.

With about 70 branches on the list, California has nearly one-fifth of the possible closings. A final list is expected in December, and closings would begin at the earliest in January. The closures will save the Post Office between $20 million and $100 million annually.


South Hayward charrette wrapping up

The series of meetings and design sessions aimed at coming up with a form-based code for the area around the South Hayward BART station wraps up on Sunday, with a 5 p.m. presentation of the results at the City Hall council chamber. Designers will be in production mode through the weekend, but the public is invited to stop by. The process included a field trip to the site earlier this week, at which nearly two dozen residents accompanied city officials and the consultants.

“There were a lot of seniors, longtime residents of the area who were very engaging,” said Laura Hall of consultant firm Hall Alminana. “A lot of them are scared by the current conditions, frightened to go out even during the day.”

Residents also got to weigh in on what they’d like to see in the area using green and red dots. A cursory look found that sit-down restaurants and a full-service grocery are most desireable, while fast-food joints and discount stores had few fans. The next step will be taking the results of the charrette before the City Council for review.

Director of Development Services David Rizk said he hopes to have the Sunday’s presentation available online early next week. Here’s the city’s page dedicated to the project.


Missing the point on I-880?

Something has vanished along the Interstate 880 corridor. It used to serve as an unofficial road sign for southbound commuters — if you want to take 238 to 580, why, you’d better start moseying over to the right lanes.

According to the new tenants of 3199 Alvarado St. in San Leandro, they took down the landmark (albeit dilapidated) Levitz spike n’ sign about three weeks ago. It has been replaced with their own Dependable Logistics Services sign, which is about half as high as its predecessor. Dependable, a warehousing and trucking company, signed a 13-year-lease for the 260,000-square-foot space nearly a year ago.

Luke Sims, San Leandro’s director of community development, said current zoning would never allow for something as tall as the Levitz sign. He did acknowledge that it was an unusual piece of the skyline.

“The Levitz Needle,” he said. “Yeah, that was kind of a skewered, ’60s-looking thing.”

Dependable general manager Trevor Schirmer said the surrounding community had wanted the big sign taken down, and they were happy to oblige. It has been dismantled and scrapped.

“Now you can look at our sign and make it your landmark,” he said.

Photo is of the Levitz sign in happier discount furniture days, taken by Studio H on flikr one morning in 2005.



Hayward names new commissioners

ADDENDUM — At its June 23 meeting, the City Council appointed the following new members to the Youth Commission: Dayana Morales, Sarahi Bautista, Alex Harmon, Dulce Andrade, Erika Ramos, Yessenia Sanchez and Claudia Canales. Reappointed were Jessica Bravo, James Dixon, Jeevit Gill, Lawrence McGee and Lauren Quan, with Rachel Rojas, Frances Naguit and Arlene Valencia on the alternate list.

The City Council filled most of the vacancies on various boards and commissions at its meeting last week. A total of 19 new commissioners and six reappointments filled the slots on six different boards.

Here are the appointments:

Downtown Business Improvement Area Advisory Board — Nicole Reams, Cynthia Chang, Meg Shaw (reappointment).

Citizens Advisory Commission — Donna Allen-Thomas, Nicholas Terry, Linda Moore, Cynthia Chiasson and Peggy Guernsey (reappointment).

Economic Development Committee — Jim Wieder, Christopher Lam and Terri Swartz.

Human Services Commission — Lucy Castillo, Todd Davis, Robert Lara. Reappointments: Ben Henderson, Julie LInd, Elizabeth Samayoa.

Library Commission — Stephanie Ayala and Judith Harrison (reappointment).

Keep Hayward Clean and Green Tast Force: Carolyn Grieco, Jennifer Ong, Kevin Thompson, Antonia Elizalde, William McGee, Kelly Doyle-Pasion.

The city received 36 applications and conducted 35 interviews. A vacancy remains on the Downtown Business Improvement Area Advisory Board.

The boards serve in an advisory capacity to the City Council. Congrats to everyone selected!


Mourn torn Zorn’s?

To facilitate the plan to build a loop of one-way streets around Hayward’s downtown, the building that formerly housed Zorn’s restaurant was demolished Monday at the corner of A Street and Mission Boulevard. See video here!

Zorn’s has been closed and vacant for years, and some of us never had the opportunity to eat at the diner with the unusual name. Any memories of Zorn’s anyone?

The HayWord inquired with city officials today as to what might be next on the demo list, but they didn’t  know.

Watch for those chain-link fences: when one goes up around a building, the dozer isn’t far behind.



Calpine-PG&E energy agreement for Russell City approved

Calpine announced Thursday that an amended power-purchase agreement with PG&E was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission for the proposed Russell City Energy Center, a 600-megawatt power plant that would be placed near the Hayward shoreline.

That doesn’t mean the plant itself is approved. It has some of the required permits, but the main hurdle remaining is approval from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, acting as a delegate of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The air district previously gave it the go ahead, meaning it didn’t find evidence that the plant would add significant amounts of pollution to the air, but that permit was revoked after a lawsuit on the grounds that BAAQMD did not follow federal guidelines for publicly noticing the permitting process.

The air district is currently reviewing and responding to public comments submitted regarding the permit. No time frame has been given in which a decision will be made.

We will have a larger story on this posted online Friday, running in Saturday’s paper.


La Victoria: Already a memory

Hayward High sophomore and frequent HayWord commentor Alex Harmon took some fine photos of the former La Victoria restaurant at Mission Boulevard and D Street, which was razed last month to make way for the Downtown Loop. This is one of many, the rest are available on Alex’s flickr site. Alex is a prolific photographer, so you’ll probably have to search for “La Victoria” to find them.

Says Alex: “I pass by the La Victoria’s almost every day and saw it get torn down. I had my camera with me and started taking photos of the building. The mural on the building was my favorite mural in downtown Hayward and I think it should have been saved or moved.”

Here’s an old but good story by Matt O’Brien about the history of the loop project, with accompanying interactive presentation.