Students move into Garden Village apartments amid ongoing construction

Phillip Downey/Senior Staff

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8/24/2016: This article has been updated to reflect additional information from campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff. 

Students planning to live in the campus’s newly developed Garden Village apartment complex have begun moving into the residence hall despite continuing construction originally slated for completion in April.

The five-story apartment complex, located on 2201 Dwight Way, consists of 18 separate buildings currently leased to UC Berkeley by the development group Nautilus as of last May. The complex contains 77 units in total, seven of which are below market rate, as designated by city requirements.

The complex contains two and four bedroom apartments, with single-bedroom occupancy. Single occupancy in a two-bedroom apartment costs $1,650 per month and single occupancy in a four-bedroom apartment costs $1,550 per month.

Construction of the building began in March 2015 but delays have pushed the project deadline into the fall semester. Garden Village received a temporary certificate of occupancy for floors one through four last Saturday, according to Randy Miller — the Nautilus developer behind the building project — allowing students to begin moving in the following day.

Miller said that crews still need to install emergency lighting fixtures on the fifth floor, which remains closed and unassigned to students. The building’s elevator must also be approved by the state elevator inspector before the fifth floor can open.

According to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff, there is no firm date for when the fifth floor will open. The construction team has also yet to complete the landscaping work, the installation of rooftop farms and the construction of offices and student lounges.

The architect who designed the building, Stanley Saitowitz, said the building units were pre-assembled at a factory and transported to the construction site, where they were formally attached. Units are furnished and include a bathroom, kitchen and living room.

Saitowitz added that the building’s design was inspired by cities like Venice, Italy, where narrower streets provide intimate spaces to foster relationships between reswidents.

“Instead of it being a big building with long hallways, it’s much more like a community that really takes advantage of a particular life that students live, which is almost like much more connected and intertwined than typical apartment life,” Saitowitz said.  “If you think of most student dorms — they’re modeled in the idea of an apartment — this is modeled after the idea of a small town.”

Both undergraduate and graduate students currently live in the apartment complex, which also features resident assistants. Liz DaBramo, a resident assistant for Garden Village and an incoming graduate student in public policy and environmental engineering, lived in temporary housing in Sequoia Village before moving in last Sunday.

“I’m really impressed because they did a lot to get us to move in on Sunday,” DaBramo said.

According to Miller, who is a campus alumnus, he joined the project because he wanted to be a part of the effort to provide more housing to students in Berkeley.

“When the site became available, I knew it was a great opportunity to develop badly needed housing that would be really great quality,” Miller said.

Contact Cassandra Vogel at [email protected].