Zoning Adjustments Board approves 18-story apartment building in Downtown Berkeley

Amanda Ramirez/Staff

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The city of Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board approved a plan Oct. 25 to construct an 18-story building with 274 new apartment units at 2190 Shattuck Ave. in Downtown Berkeley, the current location of a Walgreens.

If the project is appealed by someone in the Berkeley community, the City Council will vote to approve or deny the project. The building, to be called Shattuck Terrace Green Apartments and developed by Mill Creek Residential, will have 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and a two-level subterranean garage with 103 parking spaces.

The current building will be demolished in order to begin construction, and the Walgreens located inside the building will close and return in the building’s retail space once the development is completed, said Jason Overman, spokesperson for Mill Creek Residential.

The development will provide the city’s Housing Trust Fund with a $10.1 million contribution in fees-in-lieu of making 20 percent of the new units affordable housing. The building is part of Berkeley’s Downtown Area Plan, approved in 2012, that allowed for the construction of four buildings up to 120 feet tall and three other buildings that can be up to 180 feet tall.

“Part of why the City Council raised that fee is because they’re signaling the importance of generating money for the cities to build affordable housing projects,” Overman said.

One controversial issue surrounding the development is whether the structure will block the view of the Golden Gate Bridge on campus from Campanile Way. According to Overman, an environmental impact report stated that the building will have “less than significant impact” on the view.

Zoning Adjustments Board member Dohee Kim, a former opinion columnist for the Daily Californian, said she supports the development because housing instability affects everyone and building more housing is more of a priority than the view.

“At the end of (the) day, you have to make trade-offs,” Overman said. “Cities will never remain static. They evolve to adapt to our needs as a society.”

Overman added that the architecture team made accommodations to the building design, rounding the corners of the building to lessen the building’s impact on the view of the Golden Gate Bridge. But he said there is only so much the team could do to modify the design while preserving the positive impacts the building will have in terms of meeting Berkeley’s housing needs.

John Caner, CEO of the Downtown Berkeley Association, said that the association has been “very supportive” of the project — he said the building’s location in front of the Downtown Berkeley BART station makes it an appealing development.

“There’s a tremendous need for us to build more housing in the region, and if we’re not doing it on top of BART station, then I don’t know what in the world we’re doing,” Overman said.

Contact Ronit Sholkoff at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @RonitSholkoff.