Category Archives: Real estate

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 St. 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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Initiative aims to tighten ‘green’ parts of Downtown Plan

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Update: 6//14: The initiative has qualified for the November 2014 ballot.

Original story: City Councilman Jesse Arreguín, some members of the environmental community, the labor community, and preservationists are circulating a ballot initiative that would drastically overhaul elements of the Berkeley Downtown Area Plan endorsed by voters in 2010 and codified by the city council in 2012.

The initiative would restore the “green” in the “Green Vision” part of the plan, according to Arreguín.

It would essentially mandate that all buildings in the downtown core taller than 60 feet high follow the more stringent “Green Pathways” provision of the Downtown Area Plan, rather than making that an optional track for developers. … Continue reading »

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‘Moorish palace’ plans for Telegraph show little progress

The design for a mixed-use project at 2501 Haste St. Courtesy: Kirk E. Peterson & Associates
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The frustration was palpable Thursday night as zoning board commissioners noted the lack of headway by the property owner of a highly anticipated mixed-use project proposed on Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue.

The empty lot at 2501 Haste St., at Telegraph, has been vacant for more than 20 years, though owner Ken Sarachan has said he would like to build a 6-story Moorish palace-like structure there.

In 2012, Sarachan submitted preliminary plans to the community about his vision. But the process since then has been murky. Issues quickly cropped up related to the fate of an historic home on the project site, the potential need for an environmental review, and existing liens on the property which added up to $640,000. The latest hurdle is due to missing documents and details needed from the project architect, which must be turned in to the city before any approvals can take place. … Continue reading »

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See plans Tuesday for new downtown Berkeley hotel

A 16-story hotel has been proposed on Center Street at Shattuck Avenue.  Image: JRDV Urban International
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A 16-story high-rise hotel under consideration in downtown Berkeley is making its way through the city approval process, with three preview meetings already completed before city panels related to development decisions. No votes have yet been taken, but are expected in the coming months.

The hotel, proposed by Jim Didion and Center Street Partners LLC, would replace the 1970s-era one-story Bank of America building and parking lot at Shattuck Avenue and Center Street. If approved, the project would transform one of the most visible corners in downtown Berkeley.

An open house about the project is scheduled for Tuesday, April 15, from 5-7 p.m. at the Marsh Theater, 2120 Allston Way. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley home with personality, built for famed geologist

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Idiosyncratic and lovely. Both words describe the recently listed home at 1555 La Vereda Road in North Berkeley.

The three-bedroom house with separate cottage, which is priced at $1,095,000, was built for — and in part by — the renowned geologist Andrew Cowper Lawson in the 1930s.

Lawson was a traveler, art collector and enthusiastic builder. He had already had one distinctive home designed for him when he decided to have his next one built right behind it. Bernard Maybeck created the now landmarked “Pompeian villa” on La Loma Avenue for Lawson in 1907. … Continue reading »

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