New apartment complex to open near Telegraph Avenue in March

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Audrey McNamara/Staff

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Berkeley residents searching for housing can expect new units near Telegraph Avenue to be available for lease this March, as the New Sequoia apartment complex opens its doors.

The long-awaited development at 2441 Haste St. will replace the historic apartment building that burned down in November 2011 with 42 rental units and space for the reopening of two Berkeley restaurants, Cafe Intermezzo and Raleigh’s Bar and Grill.

“It’s just going to be a turning point for Telegraph,” said Gregory Ent, the owner of both Cafe Intermezzo and Raleigh’s Bar and Grill. “It’s going to make a huge difference to this area in a positive way.”

The intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street has been a blight for a number of years with empty lots and closed stores, according to Councilmember Kriss Worthington, whose district includes the area. The intersection has also been the source of more complaints than any other intersection in the Telegraph Avenue area, he added.

Though Worthington is optimistic that the new development will benefit the area, he said he is still pushing the city to take strong action on the vacant lot across the street, referring to the fenced lot at 2501 Haste St.

“The city should take immediate legal action to force something to happen on that lot,” Worthington said.

The campus is currently in negotiations with the lot’s owner, Ken Sarachaz, to receive ownership of the site, according to Zoning Adjustments Board commissioner Igor Tregub.

The new apartment complex and development is expected to draw additional foot traffic to the area, said Al Geyer, owner of Annapurna, a nearby store. The previous popular restaurants at the site used to serve more than 1,000 customers daily, according to Ent, whose father, Kenneth Ent, is the property’s owner.

In addition to revitalizing the intersection, the new development will almost exclusively cater to student residents, Ent said, providing new housing options amid campus plans to increase enrollment with no students guaranteed on-campus housing this year.

Though Ent said development is almost a year behind schedule, Ryan Duarte, a project engineer at ROEM Builders Inc., which is overseeing construction, said he anticipates the project will conclude in March. According to Ent, the apartment complex will begin offering month-to-month leases by the end of March, and the restaurants are slated to open by May.

The New Sequoia complex will offer an assortment of fully furnished one- and two-bedroom units, along with free movie nights, bike rentals and room service from the two restaurants. According to Ent, two-bedroom units are expected to cost between $2,600 and $3,000, depending on whether units have a view of the bay.

“When we get it really rolling, it’s going to be a fun place to be,” Ent said.

Contact Adam Iscoe at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @iscoe_dc