City officials, developers meet at ceremony for high-end apartment project Downtown

Olympic Residential Group/Courtesy

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City officials and developers met Thursday at a ceremony for a mixed-use apartment project on the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Dwight Way.

The mixed-use development at 2121 Dwight Way will create 99 units of high-end apartment homes — a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units — along with 5,607 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor. According to a press release from the developer, the building will include amenities that are “unparalleled” in the Berkeley housing market, such as kitchens that include European-style cabinets, floor-to-ceiling windows and a rooftop deck.

Daniel Deibel — president of Olympic Residential Group, the developer of the building — described the development as a high-quality, high-amenity package that is “kind of unusual in a good sense because there isn’t a lot of that exists in Berkeley.”

Along with the site’s proximity to public transit, the building will have on-site parking, including electric-vehicle charging stations and car-share parking spaces. Additionally, Deibel said residents will be offered AC Transit passes.

The project will replace several buildings that were built around the 1920s, including one that formerly housed a furniture store and was demolished in 2014 after the store moved to 1621 San Pablo Ave.

According to Carol Johnson, the city’s land-use planning manager, the site’s ownership changed several times before construction officially began. Olympic took over the project in February.
Deibel said the developer had a good experience working with the city and complied with all density and height requirements for the project.

The project is one of multiple new city housing developments that the Downtown Berkeley Association expects will help nearly double the city’s population.

According to a brochure from the DBA, the population Downtown has doubled since 2000, currently with about 3,000 residents in its 30 blocks. The DBA predicts the number of residents living Downtown will rise to 5,000 with the 1,100 new housing units, scheduled to be completed by 2018.

City Rent Board Commissioner James Chang hopes the development will try to offer more affordable housing options.

“It’s always important for new developments to be cognizant of community benefits with regard to the people it impacts,” Chang said, adding that he believes most businesses are not pushing themselves to go beyond simply following laws to provide more for the community.

In response to the city’s requirement regarding affordable housing, Deibel said the company is still deciding what exactly the building will provide for low-income residents.

“Berkeley has two routes — you can pay an affordable housing in-lieu fee, or you can do it on site,” Deibel said. “We haven’t finalized the decision yet, so that’s an ongoing issue that we’re looking into.”

Contact Frank Yu at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @AsianHippie.