Telly Vandals Slow Work on Big Store

Moe Moskowitz, that cigar-chomping seller of books and used phonograph records on Telegraph Avenue, is planning to build a three-story, $700,000 paperback palace on the site of the "Berkeley Hilton," 2476 Telegraph Ave.

Excavations have begun on the site, located between the Eclair Pastries Shop and Shambhala Books, but there's apparently a group of vandals who seek to stall the work.

Last Friday, they reportedly tore down the barrier in front of the vacant lot, now a construction site, which was most recently used as an outdoor bazaar.

A second barrier was erected on Saturday, and it too was torn down, according to Ellis Sjorberg, the general contractor for the project.

Then on Saturday afternoon, the insurgents again attacked the site, turning on the water faucet in apparent hopes of flooding the hole which has been dug to accommodate the new store's basement.

The site was formerly occupied by the delapidated "Telegraph Hilton"

When the neighboring apartment house manager removed the faucet handle, someone broke the pipe, again releasing gallons of water. After some searching, an inside master valve was located and shut off. Meanwhile, workmen erected a formidable chain-link fence with barbed wire on top.

"I don't think this is was a direct attack on Moe," said Sjoberg, "he's got a good reputation. There's no organized opposition to this project."

Moe is a very familiar face on the Avenue, and has been quite active in civic affairs. Most recently, he was in the news for his outspoken opposition to the anti-smoking ordinance. Moe's cigar is as much a part of his visage as was Groucho.

The new building will have 13,000 square feet of floor space, tripling Moe's present store size. A variance must be obtained for the third story, and a public hearing on the issue is scheduled before the Board of Adjustments next Wednesday evening.

The third floor is crucial to the success of the whole project, Moe said. He needs the expanded space to make the move worthwhile.

-- The Berkeley Independent Gazette, September 12, 1977