UC Berkeley in process of buying property on Walnut Street for student housing

Kaitlan Tseng/Senior Staff

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UC Berkeley is in the process of buying a property on Walnut Street as part of its plan to create more housing for students, as first reported by Berkeleyside.

The proposed purchase is part of the campus’s plan to redevelop university-owned properties at the western edge of campus, called the Gateway site. This area will be redeveloped into “new, urgently needed student housing,” according to campus spokesperson Kyle Gibson.

“Incorporating this final piece of the block would provide us with space and flexibility needed to efficiently construct the best possible facility, with the best possible design for the benefit of our students and the community,” Gibson said in an email.

The size of the housing project is still under development, but it is planned to provide hundreds of beds to students, according to Gibson. He added that the housing is slated to have apartment-style units for transfer, upper division and graduate students.

UC Berkeley was notified last year of the owners’ intention to sell the property at 1921 Walnut Street, according to Gibson. He added that the campus is currently in a purchase contract with the owners of the property and is conducting the “necessary due diligence” in order to acquire it.

F.E. Forbes Company, which owns the property, declined to comment on the sale.

“We need to make absolutely clear that the only action being pursued at present with regard to this property is completion of the sale initiated by the present owners of the property,” Gibson said in the email. “There is no other imminent action planned regarding the property, and the residents of 1921 Walnut Street can plan on remaining in the building for at least several months.”

Gibson said campus will not move forward with any relocation offers to current residents of the building before the shelter-in-place order is lifted. He added that, in accordance with UC relocation policy, the residents of the building received a notice of their potential relocation entitlement.

According to Gibson, campus will ensure that the residents of the building receive the relocation assistance they are entitled to, and he said UC Berkeley has reached out to an external firm to help with the relocation process.

ASUC Senator Liam Will said he would like to see UC Berkeley consult students and tenants, as well as transparency about projected unit prices. He called the prospect of building the additional housing “alluring.”

“We need to be able to guarantee more housing to students, and it would be amazing if in the future, we can guarantee a housing contract to all first year and transfer students,” Will said in an email.

Contact Nina Narahari at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ninanarahari_dc.