Berkeley residents express concerns about 6-story project’s affordability, parking

Suyang Lu/Staff

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More than 30 people attended a public meeting Wednesday night to give feedback on a proposed six-story mixed-use building in the Adeline corridor, an area of Berkeley that is targeted for redevelopment.

Located on 2902 Adeline St., the proposed project would replace Aw Pottery at 2908 Adeline St. and include 47 residential units, eight live-work units and 18 parking spaces, with 10 percent of the units having prices set below market rates. It is in its early planning stages and is in the area of — but not officially a part of — a city plan to revitalize the Adeline corridor, according to city spokesperson Matthai Chakko.

The city received a $750,000 grant in May 2014 to fund the Adeline corridor plan and may take about two years to fully formulate it. According to Chakko, the building proposal comes in the midst of a city effort to do the “most extensive (community) outreach it has done in quite a long time” for its Adeline corridor development.

Realtex, the San Francisco-based developer of the project, held the public meeting at the Rose Garden Inn as its second community meeting for the proposed building, according to Cody Fornari, Realtex’s senior project manager. The developer also submitted a proposal in April to construct a seven-story building on Telegraph Avenue, for which the developer has also held several community meetings.

One of the main concerns brought up at the meeting for the proposed building, which was designed by Trachtenberg Architects, was the lack of on-site affordable housing. During the meeting, Fornari said the project would have about five units below market rate that would cost about $900 per month.

Shari Ser, a longtime resident who lives three doors down from the proposed development, said at the meeting that she would have liked to see the building with three stories and at least 50 percent of its units designated as affordable housing.

The affordable housing issue was also brought up at the first community meeting July 22. Fornari addressed the issue at the Wednesday meeting and said it would be very difficult to meet community expectations for affordable housing.

“There’s no return on capital for me to move forward with this project — there needs to be return on capital,” Fornari said at the Wednesday meeting. “The affordable rates are very low, and it’s very hard to even break even … on a project like this.”

At the city’s public information session in January for its development plan, community members voiced concerns that the plan could displace businesses and homeowners in the Adeline corridor because of rapid increases in rent prices brought on by new developments.

Other attendees expressed worries that 18 parking spaces would not be sufficient and would cause parking problems for other residents in the neighborhood. In response to public suggestions about including an underground parking garage, principal architect David Trachtenberg said at the meeting that “it’s an expense issue” and cited other reasons — such as the project’s size — that the suggestion was impractical.

The city has yet to review and approve the project’s plans. Fornari said at the meeting that he plans to submit the current draft of the plans to the city Wednesday and would like to incorporate the feedback from the two community meetings into his proposal.

The city plans to host a community workshop and pop-up event Aug. 29 at Harriet Tubman Terrace to share results from previous community outreach events and surveys regarding the development plan.

Contact Sujin Shin at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sujinjshin.