Upper Hearst development plan aims to address need for housing, academic and research space

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The UC Berkeley administration presented a proposed housing plan dubbed “Upper Hearst Development for the Goldman School of Public Policy” at the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting July 5.

The proposal is aimed at simultaneously addressing the need for campus housing and the need for an academic space for the Goldman School of Public Policy, or GSPP. According to the proposal, two separate buildings will be constructed: a 132-unit residential building above the Upper Hearst Parking Structure and the parking lot on Ridge Road and La Loma Avenue, and an academic building for GSPP.

District 3 Landmarks Preservation Commissioner Kathleen Crandall said in a text message that no official decisions were made at the meeting, as the campus does not have to inform the commission of its projected plans.

According to UC Berkeley Capital Strategies spokesperson Kyle Gibson, the project is still in development, so there is not yet a scheduled construction date.

“At this phase in development process, the project design is further refined, anticipated schedules and financial plans established, and environmental reviews conducted,” Gibson said in an email. “UC Berkeley anticipates that the project will be presented to the UC Regents early next year.”

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The six-story residential building will be composed of one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments for faculty as well as graduate and postdoctoral students, Gibson said in an email.

Gibson added that the project is a public-private partnership between the campus and a private developer, American Campus Communities, which is developing the academic building and constructing all project components.

“The ability to provide housing for the underserved populations of faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars proximate to campus is also of great benefit in light of the campus’s commitment to increasing the amount of housing offered to the UC Berkeley community,” Gibson said in an email.

In order to make room for the four stories of proposed development and estimated 32,000 gross square feet of the academic structure, the western part of the Upper Hearst Parking Structure will be knocked down, with about 100 parking spots being eliminated, according to the proposal.

Crandall said she was surprised that the proposal did not offer any parking. Although she personally liked the plan — despite how enormous the proposed building will be compared to the neighboring buildings — she hopes the campus will provide creative transportation options, such as rideshares, to make up for the lack of parking.

“I think first and foremost Cal is making a Herculean effort to find ways to build housing for students and faculty,” Crandall said in a text message. “They know they can’t please everyone but without more housing … they can’t continue to attract first rate talent if those that want to come can’t find a place to live. We all have to be creative in these times of an overwhelming need for housing.”

Contact Mani Sandhu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ManiSandhu24.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that about 200 parking spots will be eliminated to make room for the proposed development. In fact, about 100 parking spots will be eliminated.