Mixed-use building to be erected in vacant lot on Telegraph Avenue

An artist’s representation depicts the mixed-use building that will be constructed on Telegraph Avenue. The building will include five stories and 38 apartment units.

A vacant lot on the corner of Telegraph and Ashby avenues that was formerly occupied by a gas station will become a five-story mixed-use building.

The lot — which has been vacant since 2008, when the gas station was demolished — is located at 3001 Telegraph Ave., across from Whole Foods Market, and will hold approximately 4,000 square feet of retail space under 38 apartment units.

The city of Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustment Board approved the plan in 2009 — after underground service tanks were removed from the lot — and production is scheduled to finish in approximately 14 months, according to Avi Nevo, the project developer and general contractor.

Nevo, who bought the land about three years ago, said he envisions that this project will transform the corner.

Nevo said he decided to buy the vacant lot because he feels that the “market is still very good for rental in Berkeley” and that the “demand (for housing in that area) is still there.”

The project will provide 42 parking spaces, about 9 percent less than the 46 spots required by the city’s zoning ordinance. This issue has raised criticism from residents, according to planning documents from the board’s April 2009 meeting.

In response to concern over the parking spaces, Nevo said “42 parking (spaces) are sufficient for the tenants of the building.”

The city also requires that the building provide space for community members, a requirement that residents fear could be neglected in the plans.

Nevo said community space will be provided on the rooftop, where he plans to include a garden.

Steven Buckley, secretary for the zoning board, said reductions in parking are “typical” for mixed-use buildings because it is assumed that residents will use other means of transportation.

“Avi has done a variety of other projects in Berkeley and has built several buildings Downtown,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington, whose district includes the lot. “This particular intersection is a complicated intersection because the traffic on Ashby backs up all the way … the street is a nightmare, trafficwise.”

Additionally, six of the 38 units would be affordable for low-income families, according to the project’s planning and development documents.

This comes in light of the City Council’s decision over the summer to impose a yet-to-be-determined affordable housing mitigation fee on housing and retail developers of anywhere between $20,000 and $34,000 per unit if the developers choose not to build affordable housing units in their complexes.

“We have already done a nexus study on the ordinance that allows us to have an affordable housing fee,” Worthington said.

A workshop will be held on Oct. 11 to discuss the fee, Worthington said.

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