Construction to begin on 6-story development

The demolition site at Shattuck and Dwight Photo: Charles Siler

The demolition site at 2107 Dwight Way at Shattuck Avenue where a new 6-story mixed use development will be built. Photo: Charles Siler

Demolition has begun on the lot at the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Dwight Way, bringing down the building that was home to furniture store Modernaire, which has moved to a new location. In its place will be a new, 6-story mixed-use housing development, construction of which is set to begin in September.

Menlo Management Company is behind the development at 2107 Dwight Way, which will feature 99 rental units, 5,607 square feet of ground-floor retail space, and 45 parking spaces. A 2012 zoning board report says the housing units will be marketed primarily to students.

See Berkeleyside’s March 2015 update on the project.

The project’s architect is Richard Christiani of San Francisco-based firm Christiani Johnson Architects. Christiani says he expects to complete construction in March 2016, 18 months after the scheduled start date. He said demolition at the site will be complete soon.

The planned apartment complex at 2017 Dwight Way. Photo: Christiani Ronaldo Architects

The planned apartment complex at 2017 Dwight Way. Rendering: Christiani Johnson Architects

The development will include nine below-market-rate dwelling units. This is the minimum required for a 99-unit building under Berkeley law, which mandates that one in 10 units be “affordable” — priced so a family earning less than the regional median income can afford the rent.

According to the Christiani Johnson Architects website, the Dwight Way development will also feature a landscaped central courtyard, a rear yard with outdoor grilling and a movie theater, bike storage and car share facilities.

Modernaire, which specializes in mid-century modern furniture, has moved to 1621 San Pablo Ave., near the junction of Cedar and Hopkins.

Read more about the construction explosion in downtown Berkeley.

The Dwight Way project is one of a wave of developments set to cause a boom in population and retail space in downtown Berkeley. According to a 2014 brochure from the Downtown Berkeley Association, more than 1,400 new units are planned for the area by 2018, potentially increasing the population from 3,000 to 5,000.

The city approved the Dwight Way project in 2012. Since then, there have been no changes to the permits, meaning that the building will meet the original specifications. Christiani said the project is going according to plan.

“We have the conditions of approval and everything [was] met. So we’re designing to what was approved,” he said.

Charles Siler is a summer intern at Berkeleyside. He grew up in the North Bay and now attends Tulane University in New Orleans. He can be reached at

Groundbreaking today for new Dwight Way project (03.26.15)
‘Explosive’ downtown Berkeley housing boom under way (01.14.14)
Improving Telegraph Ave. on new UC official’s ‘to-do’ list (12.17.13)
Berkeley aims to bolster housing fund with fee discount (02.21.13)
1,000 new apartments planned for downtown Berkeley (02.07.13)

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  • I recall (not 100% sure) that when I came here in 1974 it was a parking lot for the hardware store.

    I do remember thinking that the building which went up (and is now down) was a particularly poorly done ersatz deco stucco structure. I do like the Fine Arts building on Haste, which I felt was a well done ersatz deco structure.

    And I’m sure that others feel differently.

    The sketch for this building looks like a vast improvement for the corner, and will probably nicely complement the Fine Arts building.


  • Regarding smaller vs. larger complexes.

    There are at least three 4-unit complexes on Henry Street in North Berkeley – one behind the French Hotel, the other two between Rose & Berryman. Each of these developments were built as condo complexes. There’s a 3-unit complex on the NW corner of Henry & Rose. One 2-unit condo complex at Milvia? & Rose was built upon the platform of an old duplex which was stripped to just the wood base.

    It made me think that if someone were to do a 4-unit complex, they’d be more likely to build them as condos which could be rented, rather than as a 4-plex apartment building. There’s probably a zoning, financing, or condo reason for building 2, 3 or 4 units rather than larger ones.

    So .. rental unit construction probably much more likely to be larger complexes.


  • Until you reach the point where the profit is low enough to not justify the work in developing a project.


  • Though it seems that’s what commercial property owners are doing, it never made much sense to me.

    If you don’t have well qualified renters applying for an apartment, the rent is too high. It might make sense to wait a few weeks to see if you can get the rent you want (or perhaps to wait for a slow season to pass) but after that time it will probably take quite awhile (forever?) to make up for the rent you lost.

    But I think something else is going on with the owner if they have long-term vacancies.


  • Emma

    But the same capital could be invested elsewhere for other uses.

  • Emma

    Been hitting the Ayn Rand novels again, eh? Take two Paul Krugman columns and call me in the morning.

  • Julie Weeks

    I agree with you about the ersatz deco and Fine Arts building. It seems like the now demolished deco barely met building construction codes, although I suspect an effort to reference to the Fine Arts bldg. It seems like there were few residential tenants – Modernaire being the only bright light on the corner. I’ve often wondered who allowed the building permit…

    My (fading) memory thanks you!!

  • Yes … you’re correct – looks like 3 rows of 2 units.


  • guest

    Such as…? The profit to be made on development in a market as perpetually “hot” as the bay area is so much higher than it is in an area like, say, Modesto, that even significantly lower bay area profit margins would still be much higher than many other places.

  • John Freeman

    If the housing market becomes deflationary, developers do better to wait until it finds a bottom to make a new investment. Another way to say it is that if the price of an investment keeps going down, and you lose nothing by waiting for it to fall even lower, you are better off waiting to buy it. Buy low, sell high.

    The only way for developers to sustain housing deflation through new supply is if development after development chooses, strangely, to build in a deflating market rather than wait for it to find a bottom.

  • guest

    And yet, contrary do your theory developments were still planned and build in Berkeley through all stages of the recent housing downturn and subsequent upturn here in Berkeley.

    Reality does not support your ideas on this subject.

  • Christopher Riess

    Ugly. Designed by people who crank out strip malls. It already looks dated. Those huge expanses of glass will become a display case for dirty sheets as curtains, or maybe my favorite: Tin foil covering the entire window, because meth makes the light hurt.

  • John Freeman

    You are mistaken on the facts.

    Berkeley single-family housing prices stabilized very quickly after 2008. Berkeleyside reported last year they had been slow to recover to earlier highs. This suggests that, after 2008, that market quickly found an observed bottom (roughly by 2009).

    Berkeley median rents climbed uninterrupted through 2008 and beyond, according to the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board. The rate at which rents climbed slowed slightly in 2009 and quickly picked up steam again in 2010. Some economists have argued that rents tended to inflate rapidly during this period as more buyers substituted renting for home purchases.

    And yet, contrary do your theory developments were still planned and
    build in Berkeley through all stages of the recent housing downturn

    By the way the national housing crisis illustrates what I’ve been saying about building an oversupply. In some markets, leading up to 2008, an oversupply was built. That oversupply was driven by famously flawed, massive amounts of speculation via (too) fancy securitization schemes for mortgages and apparent mortgage lender fraud.

  • guest

    The developer projects rents and costs. The costs include the tax (or in this case, the cost of the affordable units). Higher development costs mean less supply of housing mean higher rents.

    The developer does what is achievable in the market place, but adding a tax changes the cost for all developers and so changes the market price.

    Again, read any first-year economics text.

  • guest

    You are mistaken in your reading comprehension. None of what you just posted disputes anything I said in the comment you are replying to.

  • John Freeman

    Sorry but to make it painfully clear (to others, at least) you are mistaken about the nature of the “downturn”.

  • Using the same part of the brain that sees faces on natural features on Mars, I kind of a see a slight nod-of-the head homage to the top of the Buck Rogers McGraw Hill building on 42nd Street.


  • Charles_Siegel

    Maybe we should call it Deco Revival instead of Ersatz Deco.

  • Good names –

    To me …

    Fine Arts would be Deco Revival … but for the building on the corner of Dwight, I’ll stick with Ersatz Deco. Check out the street view. A “curved” wall made of a half dozen sheets of plywood.,-122.267294,3a,75y,48.04h,87.52t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sAFjqR80sGSt7EFn1TmVgNg!2e0

    vs. the smooth curve of Osteria del Teatro next to the Cameo Theater in Miami

  • guest

    And the market rent depends on the cost. Something else you can learn in a first year economic text is: Market price = Marginal cost

  • Joshua A

    Elasticity of supply/demand would be a factor if we were talking about for example, building 200 units in a small town were there are just 1000 people, but this development is just a drop in the bucket in the bay area. If this development didn’t happen, or doubled in size, it would not affect the price of housing in the bay area at all. The developer will rent their apartments for the fair market value. Now if all the affordability requirements in the bay area constrict supply, then yes macro economics says prices will increase. But for this developer, its all micro (economics). While there are many things in the bay area that are constricting the supply of housing, the affordability requirements are not near the top of this list. Economic theory very clearly says that higher affordability requirements push down the price of developable land.

  • Hyper_lexic

    I have to agree with you that this one is pretty dull. I’m a fan of contemporary architecture but I don’t see anything creative here… hopefully it will be better in person.

  • LC

    What a nasty, snarky comment! The project architect is a long-time Berkeley resident who has never cranked out a strip mall and never will. The project was custom designed for that
    particular site and to work with the style of the adjoining Fine Arts building. It was
    also unanimously approved by Berkeley’s Design Review board. I don’t know what expertize you have, but it must be extensive if you’re qualified to pass judgement on the basis of a single sketch. Perhaps the building it replaced was more to your taste. It’s also amazingly cynical and insulting to the future tenants to assume they will be meth addicts.

  • emraguso

    Our update on this project, which appears to look quite different now, is here: