The city of Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board is in the process of approving an eight-story private development project to be situated at 2580 Bancroft Way.
The planned complex, which will be named The Standard, will replace the Fred Turner Building and the Bancroft Center, the latter of which will be completely demolished. The proposed blueprints, drawn up by Johnson Lyman Architects, currently feature 122 residential units along with various amenities and commercial spaces, according to a Draft Infill Environmental Impact Report filed with the city of Berkeley.
According to Stuart Baker, executive director of the Telegraph Business Improvement District, or TBID, the property will primarily target students who need housing close to campus. TBID sent a letter of support for the project to the Zoning Adjustments Board, which will be ruling on the issue.
“We see it as a way of increasing business to the local merchants,” Baker said. “It’s also environmentally a very positive thing because students are within walking distance of their classes.”
The project is being financed by Landmark Properties, a real estate development company based in Georgia with a history of developing off-campus student housing nationwide. The company developed and currently manages Stonefire Berkeley, an apartment building on Milvia Street.
Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said in an email that he can’t comment on the project’s impact on students because the project has not been finalized yet, but Mogulof did say that the campus welcomes all additions to student housing on principle.
“The University welcomes any and all projects and developments that expand the availability of affordable, accessible student housing in close proximity to campus,” Mogulof said in an email. “Having said that, private developments are highly unlikely to have any impact on the University’s own housing plans as announced and described by the Chancellor.”
Currently, the Fred Turner Building and the Bancroft Center house nine commercial tenants — Julie’s Cafe, Party Heaven, Avant-Card, Copy Central, Tivoli Caffe, Tea Press, Indian Flavors Express, Francesca’s Collections and The House. Five of these establishments have moved out as of press time.
The pending development plan, however, has also inspired certain business decisions for those nine tenants. Tea Press, a 14-year-old restaurant that serves boba and bento boxes, will be permanently closing its doors by its required move-out date in December, according to owner and manager Elaine Ning.
Ning said the tenants were notified about the development six months ago, and that the restaurant still had six years left of its 10-year rental agreement. She added that she doesn’t expect the restaurant to recuperate from the “abrupt” contract end.
While Ning has worked at the restaurant since graduating high school, she said the closing will give her an opportunity for a new start.
“I can go back to school … start (my) own career,” Ning said. “I’ll miss the customers (but they’re) happy for me.”