Arpeggio building opens spots to low-income applicants

The Arpeggio building opened Thursday, featuring a line around the block for tenant applications for affordable housing.
Leya Andrews/Staff
The Arpeggio building opened Thursday, featuring a line around the block for tenant applications for affordable housing.

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Berkeley residents lined up for hours Thursday to be prescreened for spots in the soon-to-be-opened Arpeggio Building, located at 2055 Center St. in Downtown Berkeley.

The 143-unit, nine-story building garnered much attention from around the community, as the building is part of Berkeley’s inclusionary housing ordinance, which requires certain units within the building to be affordable for low-income citizens.

The Arpeggio Building had been under construction since 2008 but finished in July. It was initially designed to be a condominium complex, but economic difficulties forced the original developers, SNK Realty Group, to sell it to CityView, a real estate investment group founded by Henry Cisneros, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during president Bill Clinton’s administration.

The Arpeggio Building will have 23 below-market units, according to city spokesperson Mary Kay Clunies-Ross. Twelve of the units will be reserved for residents with incomes of 50 percent or lower than the national median and 11 units for residents with incomes that are 80 percent of the national median.

Low-income residents will pay rent based on a rate by square foot yet to be determined, set by the city and based on a federal policy, said Clunies-Ross.

In the rest of the complex, market-rate units, which range from 800 to 1,000 square feet, will be priced from $2,000 to $3,500, and the two-story penthouses, roughly 1,600 square feet each, will be about $4,500.

Although some of those waiting to apply for the housing heard simply by word of mouth, the majority in line learned of it from the Homeless Action Center and were connected with the Berkeley Housing Authority Housing Choice Voucher Program that helps low-income residents find housing.

Some residents vying for housing in the building lined up as early as 5:30 a.m., anticipating large crowds when the doors opened at 11 a.m.

The process was eased by building management. Despite the large number of applicants, the line was not disruptive and did not bother nearby businesses, according to building security.

Building management also handed out applications to those who had not already received them from the Homeless Action Center or the city to fill out while in line.

Building management was unable to comment Thursday due to the large number of applicants it was processing.

“They’ve been very nice,” said Sandra Blue, a UC Berkeley alumna who was also looking to find housing at the Arpeggio Building. “I’ve been looking to relocate, and here seems to be a very nice place. It’s in the middle of Downtown. It’s beautiful.”

If accepted, Blue and other low-income applicants will look to move in by December.

Contact Lindsey Lohman at [email protected].