Donor to donate residence hall at west ‘Gateway’ of UC Berkeley

Aura Barrera/Staff

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UC Berkeley is planning to build a residence hall with space for 750 to 1,000 students at the western edge of campus, coined the “Gateway site.”

Chancellor Carol Christ said the site, located at the intersection of University Avenue and Oxford Street, will provide housing for transfer students, as was first reported by Berkeleyside. The project is being bankrolled by a donor after previous plans to construct a hotel fell through. Construction is anticipated to begin by late 2020.

Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said a formal announcement for the housing project — located between Downtown Berkeley and the campus — will be made in the coming months. Mogulof did not include the name of the donor.

“A generous donor to the University who is deeply concerned about the student housing crisis and the campus’s ability to address students’ basic needs, has come forward with an exciting proposal to construct a new residential facility,” Mogulof said in an email. “While details have yet to be finalized, both the campus and the donor are confident in the project’s viability and feasibility.”

The announcement of student housing at the Gateway site represents a possible conclusion for years of tug-of-war over the future of the lot.

In 2015, under previous Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, the campus released an invitation for proposals for a hotel that would have 200 bedrooms and stand at a maximum of 115 feet tall. The hotel proposal was criticized by students, including members of the ASUC, for neglecting to address the student housing crisis.

An ASUC senate resolution passed in 2017 called for the campus administration to pursue student housing at the Gateway site, after plans for the hotel had been dropped.

“A bigger win came more recently with the announcement that a donor would be financing a project at that location and that the campus intends to use it specifically for a dense housing project,” said District 7 Berkeley City Councilmember Rigel Robinson, who sponsored the resolution while he was an ASUC senator. “As difficult as our numbers are for our incoming students, people coming right out of high school, we provide so little for graduate students and transfer students. So for a project like this to be dedicated (them), that is a big deal.”

The Gateway project is one of two donor-funded projects, Christ told Berkleyside. Another donor is gifting the campus an apartment building outside of the city. Mogulof said in his email that the project will go through the UC Board of Regent’s approval process and a public review.

Brazil Cafe — the last of three businesses on the site — will relocate to 1960 University Ave. in February 2020. Lynn Ferreira, co-owner of the restaurant, said the proximity to the campus has greatly supported the local eatery. Ferreira added that when she inquired into what the future building would look like, campus officials were not able to provide her with specific information.

Brandon Yung is the lead city government reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @brandonyung1.