Environmentally friendly apartment to be built on Blake Street

Anissa Nishioka/Staff

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Danville-based private real estate development company Blake Griggs Properties has partnered with Gemdale Properties and Investment — a subsidiary of Chinese real estate developer Gemdale Corporation — to acquire an 84-unit apartment site Downtown, according to a press release.

The five-floor project — to be called The Blake — will be located at 2035 Blake St. and will include 67 bike-parking spaces, electronic voltage-ready parking stalls and rooftop solar panels. The building will also feature 1350 square feet of ground-floor retail space, according to the press release.

“It is rare to find a fully entitled, shovel-ready project in Berkeley, where there is consistent and strong demand for housing, Blake Griggs Properties acquisitions and investment manager Sage Sudbury said in an email.

Blake Griggs Properties has created several hundred units of apartments in the East Bay, many of which are in partnership with “large institutional and global investors,” such as Gemdale Corporation, Sudbury said in the email.

Although the real estate development company has development underway across the East Bay, The Blake will be Blake Griggs Properties’ first in Berkeley.

Sudbury added in the email that the new Blake Street project is scheduled for completion about two years from now in fall 2019.

Former mayoral candidate Ben Gould said the city should encourage investment in sustainable housing such as The Blake.

“Unfortunately, the new City Council hasn’t taken meaningful steps in this direction – if anything, they’ve moved backwards,” Gould said in an email.

The Blake will be the only multifamily property in the area to include rooftop solar panels, according to the press release, although several non-residential buildings in Downtown Berkeley already feature solar panels.

Gemdale Properties and Investment deferred to Blake Griggs Properties for comment on The Blake project.

The Blake will be located about a 10-minute walk from the downtown Berkeley BART station and the UC Berkeley campus, according to Jason Zhu, chairman of Gemdale USA . He added that the apartment building is Gemdale’s third Bay Area project.

“The large student population (of UC Berkeley), increasing enrollment, and lack of on-campus housing provides a built-in demand generator,” Zhu said in the press release.

Since the initial project proposal in November 2014, the construction location has undergone an approval process that has lasted nearly three years and included several design reviews and modifications by the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board, according to the most recent Zoning Adjustments Board report on the project.

The report adds that the project will require demolishing “an existing warehouse and a commercial auto repair garage” at the location.

Prior to the acquisition of the location by Blake Griggs Properties and Gemdale Properties and Investment, the project proposal was titled The Roost and developed by Oakland-based development consultant Rhoades Planning Group.

Gould said he is excited to see the project finally begin construction.

“Berkeley clearly needs more environmentally friendly housing close to transit,” Gould said in an email. “We should be trying to encourage proposals like this to move forward and making it easier for home builders to create more sustainable housing, not worrying about shadows or recklessly raising fees.”

Contact Valerie Hsieh at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @valhsieh.