Category Archives: Real estate

Development may come to Spenger’s lot in Berkeley

Archeologists from Archeo-Tek, Inc. of Oakland excavated a site at 1900 Fourth St. in the winter of 2014 to look for evidence of the Berkeley shellmound's existence. Photo: Archeo-Tek, Inc.
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After months of poking, prodding, sifting and examining soil, an archeological dig beneath the parking lot across from Spenger’s restaurant on Fourth Street found no evidence it had ever been home to a Native American shellmound.

The findings that the site was not historically important means the owners will seek to develop it.

“Investigators found no historically significant remnants of the West Berkeley Shellmound within the parking lot grounds and have concluded to near certainty that none exist within the property,” says a report on the findings by archeologist Allen Pastron and his team from Archeo-Tec Inc., an Oakland-based firm. The dig team included an Ohlone Indian observer, Andrew Galvan. … Continue reading »

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5-story building approved, again, on University Avenue

A rendering of a new mixed-use project underway at 1698 University Ave. in Berkeley. Image: Syncopated Architecture
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A proposal to construct a five-story mixed-use building in central Berkeley was approved by the zoning board earlier this month after a request to increase the number of units from 25 to 36 while reducing the on-site parking.

The project, at 1698 University Ave. (at McGee Avenue), originally was approved by the city in 2005, and modified in 2008. Since then the property has changed hands. The new owner, San Francisco-based Realtex Apartments, asked the city Zoning Adjustments Board July 10 to increase the number of units and decrease the parking requirements from the earlier proposal.

The new project, designed by Syncopated Architecture — also of San Francisco — would take the place of a vacant automotive repair station. It is set to include approximately 2,000 square feet of commercial space and nearly 25,400 square feet of residential. … Continue reading »

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New affordable housing project headed for Berkeley

This proposed four-story building on San Pablo Avenue, to include 23 units, would be built with money from Berkeley's Housing Trust Fund. Image: HKIT Architects
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A vacant lot in West Berkeley is slated to become an affordable housing complex aimed mostly at people with disabilities after a unanimous vote by the city zoning board last week.

Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA), a Berkeley-based non-profit housing developer, sought permission from the board July 10 to modify a use permit originally granted to a different property owner in 2007.

SAHA representative Jonathan Astmann told the Zoning Adjustments Board that the project at 2748 San Pablo Ave. (at Grayson Street) would provide 17 rentals for people with disabilities, including three for families with a member who has HIV/AIDS. The project had been approved previously as condominiums.

Read more local real estate and development coverage on Berkeleyside.

The four-story project would have 23 units, unchanged in number from the earlier permit, but requested a reduction in parking spaces — from 27 to 13 — to fit the needs of residents. Astmann said SAHA property residents tend to own fewer vehicles. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley neighbors question parking, height of student-oriented housing planned on Telegraph

Patrick Kennedy hopes to build new housing on Telegraph Avenue. Image: Lowney Architecture
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A proposed retail and housing project on Telegraph Avenue that’s already proven controversial with neighbors got its first review last week from Berkeley’s zoning board.

The man behind the proposal is Patrick Kennedy, head of Berkeley-based Panoramic Interests, who is working with Lowney Architecture on the plans. The project proposes the demolition of a single-story building between Dwight Way and Parker Street and the construction of a 70-foot-tall 6-story building to include 65 rental units aimed at students, and 6,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. Six of those units would be available to very-low-income households: those making no more than 50% of the area median income.

Thursday night’s preview session was the Zoning Adjustments Board‘s first chance to provide feedback on the project. No action was scheduled or taken.

Kennedy described his project to the board as “a bold and optimistic gesture” on Telegraph, which he said is long overdue for improvements that are likely to come as higher density housing is built on the avenue. … Continue reading »

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Construction to begin on 6-story development

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

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. … Continue reading »

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Is the tech boom putting pressure on Berkeley rents?

Rents have been going up at 1450 Fourth St., a complex of live-work spaces and some tenants believe the tech boom is putting pressure on prices. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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Artist Leigh Wells still hasn’t gotten accustomed to the constant noise from the trains that run right behind her West Berkeley live-work space. And she tries not to think about the toxic emissions from the neighboring steel manufacturing plant. In fact, if it weren’t for the affordable rent, and the close-knit artist community at the 1450 Fourth Street complex, she’d never dream of living there.

But when the rent in a unit in Wells’ building went for $300 a month above asking price — and her own rent was given a $450 hike — she quickly realized that times are changing. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley tall condo project gets first city reviews

Early drawings, which are set to change, of a 120-foot condo project in the works at Shattuck Avenue and Berkeley Way. Image: The Bay Architects
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Berkeley zoning board commissioners asked the architect for a 120-foot-tall building planned for Shattuck Avenue to make the project less suburban, craft a better street-level retail experience and take steps to retain existing local merchants on site during a review late last week.

The board expressed excitement about the project, but also offered extensive feedback, which was the purpose of the preview session June 26. No action was scheduled or taken.

The 12-story, mixed-use development at 1951-1975 Shattuck Ave. — called L’Argent — is set to include 78 apartments of 1,200 to 1,600 square feet on 10 floors, along with 10,000 square feet of retail on the bottom two stories. Currently, the project includes 91 parking spots and 30 bike storage spaces, according to city staff. (The project architect said there are more than 50 bicycle stalls planned.)

Read more about the details of L’Argent in past Berkeleyside coverage.

The project is in the very early stages of city review, and is likely to change in various ways over the next year as it seeks the necessary approvals and permits. … Continue reading »

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With Pauline Kael’s former Berkeley home set to be sold, concerns raised over fate of murals by famed SF artist

2419 Oregon Street. Photo: Cody Siler
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From outside, the house at 2419 Oregon St. in central Berkeley is an unassuming two-story brown shingle. But to those who know the artistic history of the Bay Area, the home is an important artifact.

The building was once home to renowned film critic Pauline Kael, and it also houses a number of murals by Kael’s friend, the legendary San Franciscan artist Jess Collins. The murals cover the walls of the stairwell, the upstairs hallway, the lower porch and part of the living room. Now the house is due to go on the market, and people are fighting to ensure that the artworks, and the history they represent, be preserved.

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Building begins on site of Sequoia Apts fire on Telegraph

Walls come down
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Construction work has begun on a new, 43,000-square-foot, mixed-use building at 2441 Haste St. and Telegraph Avenue, the site of the former Sequoia Apartments that burned down in a catastrophic fire in November 2011.

The new structure will include 42 apartments on four stories, and see the return of two popular Berkeley restaurants: Raleigh’s Bar & Grill and Café Intermezzo, which will re-open at street level on Telegraph.

The new building will go some way toward addressing the blight on this particular Berkeley intersection, two of whose corners are vacant lots, with the long-vacant Cody’s bookstore space on the third.

On Wednesday last week, the property’s owner, Kenneth Ent, held an impromptu groundbreaking ceremony with family members and a construction crew to celebrate the beginning of the build. … Continue reading »

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Zoning board approves ‘The Overture’ on University Ave.

The Overture looks like it's headed for University Avenue near downtown Berkeley. Image: Devi Dutta Architecture
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After a significant facelift, a new mixed-use development is slated to be built on University Avenue, taking the place of two small shops on the south side of the street west of Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Plans for “The Overture” were approved 8-1 by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday night after a nearly five-hour discussion focused on a variety of technical details related to the project.

Commissioners had largely positive observations about the idea behind developer Nathan George’s new building, noting that it has an array of amenities, particularly in terms of open space that’s set to include a large gym, communal kitchen, “generous lobby,” courtyard, landscaped roof deck and pleasant seating area for residents. … Continue reading »

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2 citizen initiatives on course to make ballot in Berkeley

City Councilman Jesse Arreguín and his aide Anthony Sanchez turned in 3,900 signatures for Green Downtown and Public Commons. Photo: Tom Hunt
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At least two measures backed by Berkeley residents appear to have collected enough support to make them likely to be on the November 2014 ballot.

On Tuesday, a group backed by City Councilman Jesse Arreguín turned in more than 3,900 signatures to put a measure before voters that forces higher environmental standards on tall buildings in the downtown on the ballot. It would also create an overlay in the civic center district preventing certain buildings from being converted to commercial use. … Continue reading »

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Would new green initiative kill 2 downtown high rises?

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Update, June 14: The initiative has qualified for the November 2014 ballot.

Original story: As volunteers man the entrances to Berkeley Bowl, wander the farmers markets, and stop people on the street to collect signatures for what is called the “Green Downtown & Public Commons Initiative,” the various sides disagree on the impact the initiative may have on development in Berkeley.

City Councilman Jesse Arreguín, who is a main backer of the drive, says the initiative is merely aimed at making major developers contribute more community benefits.

“This measure is not intended to stop development at all,” said Arreguín. “Its purpose is to codify some of the community benefits that were not only made in the Downtown Plan, but in Measure R.”

But many in the development community disagree. They believe the initiative, with its higher green standards and less flexible design guidelines, could stop two current projects — the proposed 180-foot hotel at the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street, and the 17-story residential apartment tower behind the Shattuck Cinemas building. At the very least, if the initiative passes, it will make it harder to build taller structures downtown. … Continue reading »

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Bayer invites public comment on new building proposal

Bayer is considering the construction of a new building on the former Colgate soap factory site in West Berkeley. Image: Bayer
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Bayer HealthCare will hold an open house Thursday evening to ask for public comment on a new 80,000-square-foot building the company is considering constructing in West Berkeley.

The new 3-story facility, near Grayson and Seventh streets, would house testing operations — on an existing parking area and empty lot — “for various raw materials and final product” related to Bayer’s recombinant hemophilia treatments, said Bayer spokeswoman Trina Ostrander.

Bayer’s Berkeley facility is the pharmaceutical giant’s international headquarters for biotechnology development.

Ostrander cautioned that the proposal, currently, is just that, as it awaits approval from the company’s governing board in Germany, as well as the green light from local and state agencies. The board in Germany is, minimally, several months away from making a decision on the project.  … Continue reading »

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