Abrams/Millikan & Kent, a small
design/build firm specializing
in
hand crafted houses and
offices proposed a concept of
a Building Design Center...

 

 

 

 

Fourth Street Shops, Berkeley California.

The roots of the Fourth Street shopping area began in the mid 1960's with a vision to develop the area into an Industrial Park; thus, a redevelopment area was declared by the City of Berkeley. The area is bound by Cedar Street, Sixth Street, University Avenue and Frontage Road. As many as eighty old homes were moved or destroyed in the process. In time, the redevelopment agency's vision failed to attract industry. Berkeley's business image was so tarnished during the 1960's by the endless news accounts of political turmoil and activism that businesses just passed on Berkeley's new industrial park.

The land lay fallow for over 15 years. However, many businesses thrived within and around the Fourth Street area for decades and continue to this day. Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto has served the public in this area for almost 100 years. Truitt & White Lumber Company has been in business for over 60 years. Brennan's is still famous for it's Irish Coffee and fresh food.

By 1976 the Berkeley Redevelopment Agency had given up on the industrial park idea and requested proposals for the development for a small parcel on Fourth Street. Abrams/Millikan & Kent, a small design/build firm specializing in hand crafted houses and offices proposed a concept of a Building Design Center - conceived as a place catering to the home owner, presented by a guild of businesses specializing in furniture, stained glass, solar power, hot tubs, lighting, textiles and interior design. Along with the craft shops and showrooms, AMK built the Fourth Street Grill, which soon became famous throughout the country for Mark Miller's great cuisine. Thus, by 1981 a shopping neighborhood, with a regional clientele, was born.

During the 1980's Abrams/Millikan & Kent and later Drew Properties developed several additional properties on the East side of Fourth Street creating the nucleus of a vibrant shopping corridor. Slowly the street started to move beyond crafts and services, while still keeping its focus on shops devoted to the environment of the home. In the last phases of development, extending shopping North and South, the focus on design has broadened to include a number of independent shops devoted to fashion and food. Throughout the development, a philosophy has been maintained of trying to attract retailers that provide unique, interesting and high quality merchandise.