Maximino Martinez Commons set to open in mid-August

Jan Flatley-Feldman/Staff
A new dorm, Maximino Martinez Commons, is under construction on Telegraph and Channing, across the street from People's Park.

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After two years of construction rising above the Telegraph corridor, the newest student-housing option for UC Berkeley students is set to open its doors to new residents this month.

On Aug. 17, Maximino Martinez Commons will move 416 undergraduates  into its residence hall rooms, renting for $14,169, and multiple-bedroom apartments, renting for $9,916. Most new residents will be sophomores, who retain priority in applications and are guaranteed housing from the university.

Last February, more than 4,500 students applied to live in the building.

The popularity of Martinez Commons as a choice for second-year housing reflects an interest from students in apartment-style instead of residence hall-style living, according to Marty Takimoto, director of marketing communications for campus Residential and Student Service Programs.

“Through housing demand studies, we know that continuing students want access to university housing with a bit more space and privacy than the older high-rise residence halls can provide,” Takimoto said.

Sophomore Andres Sheikh, who will be living in Martinez, said a notice was given to students stating there would be construction noise throughout the fall semester. Although Martinez construction will finish by move-in day, construction adjacent to the building will continue for surge space affiliated with the Lower Sproul Project.

Located between Haste Street and Channing Way, Martinez Commons sits on the site of a former campus parking lot — which, Takimoto said, is the only place to which campus housing could expand, given the “very, very limited space for new construction on campus.”

The building sits adjacent to Telegraph Avenue and People’s Park, nestled within one of Berkeley’s most historic communities. For Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who represents that community, Martinez is a welcome addition.

“When the proposal came up to build housing across from People’s Park, I thought it was a fantastic idea because it’s close to campus in a heavily underutilized area,” Worthington said. “It will create a community for residents in the area.”

Another community member, a People’s Park resident known as “Hate Man,” was more skeptical about the campus’s housing expansion.

“I understand that the university wants to build dorms as the main reason (for constructing Martinez), but I feel that part of the motivation was to tighten the screws around the park where students will be safe and feel safe,” Hate Man said. “And use that as an excuse to sanitize or gentrify the park and try to stabilize it and make it more acceptable for other people.”

Student safety for the residence hall, including around People’s Park, is an ongoing concern, according to Takimoto. Like other university housing, Takimoto said Martinez will be equipped with security features such as blue-light phones, cameras and overnight security monitors.

“We will keep an eye on People’s Park,” said UCPD spokesperson Capt. Margo Bennett. “Once we go online at Martinez, we will have a better idea if proximity to the park is an issue.”

Students interviewed about the park said safety was not an issue for them.

“Some people are definitely worried about People’s Park,” said sophomore and future Martinez resident Yvon Brousseau. “They ask me if I’m sketched out by it. I’m fine with it. I think people over-exaggerate what goes on in the park.”