New developer eyes controversial downtown Berkeley web-site for college student housing

Minnie V. Muir
Developer CA Ventures submitted this rendering of the 8-story university student housing challenge it needs to create at 2065 Kitttredge St. The block was once eyed for a controversial 18-story advancement that fell by in early 2020.

A new corporation has established its sights on the downtown Berkeley block that was at the time the middle of a single of the city’s fiercest enhancement battles.

Chicago-based mostly developer CA Ventures is wanting to make an 8-story, 189-device “off-campus student housing community” at 2065 Kittredge St., in accordance to a preliminary software the firm submitted to the town in July.

That house — far better regarded as 2211 Harold Way, a single of its affiliated addresses — was at a single issue slated to be the site of the 18-story, 302-unit higher-increase recognised as Berkeley Plaza. The $150 million blended-use proposal was the issue of more than 3-dozen city conferences, as nicely as an unsuccessful court docket problem from its opponents, just before developer Hill Street Realty unexpectedly scuttled the challenge in early 2020, stating it experienced grown way too pricey.

Hill Street Realty offered the house to CA Student Dwelling Berkeley LLC in March for $20 million, in accordance to the Bay Area Information Team.

CA Ventures’ proposal for the web site, which the developer is also contacting Berkeley Plaza, would be completely household, with a complete of 583 bedrooms in models that range from studios to a few bedrooms. Eleven of the models would be thought of very small income, for renters who make fewer than half the place median money.

The developing would involve a 42-house underground parking garage, 114 areas of bicycle parking, a roof terrace and almost 10,000 square toes of indoor amenity regions for residents.

The firm’s ideas connect with for demolishing the present Postal Annex developing alongside Harold Way, in between Allston Way and Kittredge Road, leaving intact the portion of the block along Shattuck Avenue, together with the historic Shattuck Hotel.

The software, which was first reported by San Francisco Organization Occasions, does not checklist a price tag estimate for the venture. CA Ventures did not react to a ask for for more data about its options.

Regardless of whether this smaller Berkeley Plaza proposal will come upon the exact impassioned opposition Hill Avenue Realty’s 18-tale program sparked stays to be viewed.

To supporters, the preceding task — a dense large-increase bringing hundreds of new models to an underused block in the coronary heart of downtown — was exactly the type of improvement the Bay Spot desperately necessary far more of amid a worsening housing disaster. But opponents slammed the proposal for its height and lack of inexpensive models, and stated town officials must have exacted a much more generous group positive aspects bundle from its developer the task would have contributed $10.5 million to the city’s Housing Rely on Fund, amid other costs.

The substantial-increase would have been a single of 3 new 180-foot tall structures authorized below Berkeley’s 2012 Downtown Strategy. To date, only a person of all those assignments, a 16-story hotel at Shattuck and Middle, has damaged floor. An additional, at 2190 Shattuck just across Allston Way from the Berkeley Plaza web site, received Town Council acceptance in early 2019.

Another question mark for CA Ventures’ proposal is how it could have an effect on Landmark Shattuck Cinemas, the movie theater that turned just one of the prior project’s greatest stumbling blocks. The Berkeley Metropolis Council’s 2015 acceptance of the Hill Road Realty proposal needed the developer to rebuild the theater, which a agent for the business mentioned additional $15 million to $20 million to the project’s value tag.

CA Ventures submitted its software underneath the 2019 state housing legislation SB 330, which streamlines the permitting course of action and restricts cities’ abilities to block or scale back selected housing initiatives.

The Section of Planning and Development’s Land Use Division is now examining the project, senior planner Sharon Gong explained in an e-mail, and it will eventually go in advance of Berkeley’s Zoning Changes Board.

1 player from the previous Harold Way saga will not be associated in conversations this time all-around: Habitot, the children’s museum that extensive known as the Postal Annex setting up house, moved out of its basement house late very last 12 months immediately after closing at the begin of the pandemic.

“That smaller place, with no fresh air and no out of doors area, was definitely not going to be a sustainable reopening place following the pandemic waned,” Habitot govt director Gina Moreland stated.

The museum had been eyeing a move for several years, considering that the prior Berkeley Plaza proposal would have compelled it to relocate. Hill Road Realty experienced agreed to give Habitot $250,000 to enable shell out for the relocation, but that dollars hardly ever materialized since the venture fizzled out.

“The writing has been on the wall for 10 a long time for us in that creating,” Moreland said.

Items have developed a lot more complex for Habitot due to the fact the pandemic took hold, as its plan to transfer to a new South Berkeley place fell through. For now, Moreland reported the museum is holding pop-up functions close to Berkeley and presenting virtual programming, although a fundraising campaign for the relocation — and the search for a new dwelling — carries on.

“We are searching for options everywhere you go,” she stated.


Nico Savidge is Berkeleyside’s senior reporter masking town corridor.

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