The projects could bring more than 500 new apartments
Developers are proposing plans for four new apartment complexes along Shattuck, University and San Pablo Avenues. Meanwhile, work has resumed on a downtown Berkeley project that was destroyed in a fire while under construction in 2020.
If all approved and built, the four recently submitted projects would create a set of 512 apartments – of which at least 72 would be affordable – in new buildings in North, Central and West Berkeley.
The project rebuilt at 2067 University Ave. will add another 50 units, assuming its construction doesn’t go off the rails again.
Here is an overview of the projects:
1598 University Ave.
The most significant of the proposals is a plan to build an eight-story, 210-unit complex at the intersection of University Avenue and California Street.
The proposal is in the very early stages – Berkeley-based NX Ventures submitted a pre-application in January, and co-founder Nathan George warned that project details and the design shown in renders are both subject to change.
Plans call for a U-shaped structure built around a central courtyard on its south side, with 42 affordable units, a large commercial space on the first floor and a 42-space parking garage.
To make room for the project, George’s company is proposing to demolish the A-frame building that long housed North Beach Pizza on the corner, as well as the building at 1548 University Ave., home of the Chinese language school. Hanwen.
NX Ventures’ pre-application was first reported by the San Francisco Business Times. The company also built the Overture Apartments at 1812 University Ave.
“We think this will be a really great project for this college corridor,” George said of the 1598 University project. “It’s a great location close to North Berkeley BART and Ohlone Park.”
2601 San Pablo Ave.
NX Ventures is also considering the intersection of San Pablo Avenue and Parker Street for a seven-story project with 194 apartments.
A project application plans to include at least 20 apartments for ultra-low-income tenants, which under California density bonus law could allow George’s business to build higher than the limit height of 50 feet from the area, for a total height of 79.5 feet. To meet Berkeley’s affordable housing needs, the development team plans to either include additional below-market units in the building or contribute to the city’s affordable housing fund.
Taking advantage of Berkeley’s decision to eliminate minimum parking requirements in new developments, the building plans include no on-site parking for residents. Instead, it would have storage space for 118 bikes.
The project would require the demolition of existing buildings at 2603, 2609, and 2613 San Pablo Ave. One of those buildings was the longtime home of KC’s Bar-B-Que before it was destroyed in a fire in 2017; the restaurant has since moved to a new location.
NX Ventures’ proposal has not yet been scheduled for a hearing by the Zoning Adjustments Board.
1752 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley developer Patrick Kennedy has plans for a 68-unit apartment building that would become the tallest structure in the North Shattuck corridor.
Kennedy’s company, Panoramic Interests, wants to replace an auto repair shop at the intersection of Shattuck and Francisco Street with a seven-story building featuring apartments ranging from studios to three bedrooms. The building will have at least seven affordable units, and Panoramic Interests always decides whether to include additional units or contribute to the affordable housing fund to meet city requirements.
The building will also not have resident parking on site – six parking spaces included in the plans would be for patrons of a planned cafe on the ground floor.
A handful of neighbors attended a community forum about the development, two of whom objected to the height and size of the building, according to notes submitted in the project application. But Kennedy, whose company has built more than a dozen projects around Berkeley, noted that the area is home to several four- and five-story apartment buildings, and said he saw opposition to a greater density soften.
“I think residents of North Berkeley and Berkeley in general recognize that there is a massive housing shortage,” he said. “I think the pendulum has swung in favor of infill development.”
The building does not yet have a hearing date before the Zoning Adjustments Board. Kennedy said he hopes to launch the project within a year.
2440 Shattuck Ave.
The downtown building that until last year housed a Dollar Tree store would be demolished for an eight-story, 40-unit apartment complex according to plans submitted by Austin Group, an East Bay developer.
Called The Lair, the project on the corner of Shattuck and Haste Street would be made up of one- to three-bedroom apartments and also would not have on-site parking. Three of the units would be affordable, and Austin Group Chairman Bill Schrader said the company plans to contribute about $1 million to the city’s affordable housing fund.
Schrader described the planned building as a “fraternal twin” to another Austin Group project that opened last August at 2510 Channing Way, called The Den, since the two projects are the same size and have the same number of units. The resort would primarily cater to student tenants, Schrader said.
“Until student demand balances out, in and around campus will be a student market,” he said.
The project has not yet been scheduled for a Zoning Adjustments Board hearing. The Austin Group hopes to innovate this fall and open the building in time for the 2024-25 academic year.
2067 University Ave.
This 50-unit project on the former site of the Vietnamese restaurant Anh Hong is resurfacing.
Approved by the city in 2017, the seven-story building was under construction in November 2020 when a six-alarm fire broke out at the site, damaging the structure to such an extent that the city ordered its upper floors demolished in drink.
Work on the site resumed last year and this week crews rebuilt up to the fifth floor. Berkeley planning director Jordan Klein said the rebuilt project would be the same as the original.
Project owner David Lau did not respond to a message asking for more information.