Residence hall under construction on Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street

Ruby Sapia/Staff

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A residence hall to be known as “The Enclave” is currently being constructed on an empty lot at the corner of Haste Street and Telegraph Avenue.

According to City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, the lot was left vacant when a fire burned down the Berkeley Inn and surrounding areas in 1990. Since then, the “rat-infested” lot has been the source of various noise- and trash-related complaints, Worthington said.

Throughout the years, Worthington advocated for the city to claim the property through the process of eminent domain if the owner continued to do nothing with the open land. Worthington said it is a “tragedy” to have vacant retail space on such a major commercial street.

“I’ve been working on getting something built at this site for every single year — all 22 years — that I have been on this council, and went to dozens of meetings discussing how to get housing built there,” Worthington said. “It was only after I got the City Council to sue the owner of the property that we finally got an agreement to get something built there.”

Worthington added that the city was able to receive a court settlement after suing the lot’s owner, Ken Sarachan, who then turned in an application to build on the lot.

According to an email from Kyle Gibson, spokesperson for UC Berkeley Capital Strategies, this is a private development that will be carried out and funded by the company West Builders.  

The campus is exploring “creative” methods to expand housing options and meet student needs, Gibson said in an email. The campus has entered “several” master lease agreements and signed letters of intent to lease with private developers in order to increase its inventory by more than 665 beds for undergraduate and graduate students by 2023, according to Gibson’s email.

“The University has entered into a 10-year lease at the privately-developed apartment building at 2433 Telegraph Avenue, known as The Enclave,” Gibson said in an email. “The Enclave agreement will provide 254 beds through the campus housing office. The developer anticipates the beds will be ready for the 2020 fall semester.”

Neighboring businesses such as Amoeba Music and Copy Central Telegraph are also noticing the construction taking place.

Kevin Brownell, an employee at Amoeba Music, said he is “enthusiastic” to witness the construction underway because the area is an “awful” part of the neighborhood.

“It’s good that they are building new student housing,” Brownell said. “It seems that there has been a shortage of student housing, and it’s really nice to see buildings going up on Telegraph.”

Worthington described the construction as “positive” because the development will be built after a long wait.

“As I was passing there this morning, I saw the bulldozers digging up underground to get rid of all the debris that is there and making it so that they can start the building,” Worthington said. “It is just so exciting to see progress happening.”

Contact Stanley von Ehrenstein-Smith [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @von_ehrenstein.