Zoning Adjustments Board approves more housing across from UC Berkeley

Maya Valluru/Staff

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The city of Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board, or ZAB, approved plans Oct. 25 for the Standard, a proposed housing complex with 122 units on Bancroft Way, across the street from campus.

The units in the eight-story building are designed for students, but the building will be privately owned and not part of campus housing. Eleven units will be reserved for low-income affordable housing, and the project’s developer, Landmark Properties, will pay about $2 million to the city’s Housing Trust Fund. If the project is appealed by a member of the Berkeley community, City Council will vote to approve or deny the project.

Angie Chen, the local affairs director in the ASUC office of the external affairs vice president, said in an email that she spoke in support of the bill at the ZAB meeting because the housing crisis is caused by a “lack of supply.”

“The reality is that no singular development is going to have a huge impact on the student housing crisis,” Chen said in an email. “However, The Standard is a particularly impactful project firstly because it’s clearly geared towards students, and secondly because it not only provides low-income units but also contributes $2 million into a fund to build more affordable housing across the city.”

The rear part of the Fred Turner Building, a Berkeley landmark designed by architect Julia Morgan, will be demolished, but the original façade will remain.

complex_cityofberkeley_courtesyAccording to ZAB member and architect Charles Kahn, addressing the landmark was “tricky,” but he supported the project after Landmark Properties changed a previously submitted design.

“There’s a terrible need for student housing — quality student housing — close to campus, and this is a perfect location,” Kahn said. “The developer worked hard and long with the Landmarks Preservation Commission.”

Patrick Sheahan, the lone ZAB member to vote against the project, said that while he is in favor of more affordable housing, the building’s design lacked energy efficiency. While the proposal met requirements, he said it was not “ambitious” in taking extra steps to address climate change.

While he said he cannot comment on ongoing ZAB proposals, City Councilmember Kriss Worthington said the areas near campus and Downtown are “ideal” places for more student housing.

“Densification by the campus reduces gentrification in other parts of the city,” Worthington said.

Alexandra Stassinopoulos covers schools and communities. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AE_Stass.