Berkeley development projects in the works, offering affordable units

Infographic about Berkeley housing developments
Aasha Turner/Staff
Under the Regional Housing Needs Allocation Plan, Berkeley must build 8,934 apartment units, and some are required to be below market rate to increase affordable housing options for low-income residents.

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When seven stories went up in flames mid-construction, so did project plans, funds and visions of a future apartment complex in Downtown Berkeley.

Two years later in 2022, the same apartment at 2067 University Ave. is undergoing reconstruction, along with the development of four housing proposals in Berkeley.

In total, 500 apartment units have been proposed to meet Berkeley’s development requirements.

The Regional Housing Needs Allocation, or RHNA, Plan assesses regional housing needs and income levels to formulate building requirements for cities across California.

Under the RHNA Plan, Berkeley must plan for 8,934 apartment units, including several affordable ones, between 2023-2031, according to spokesperson Stefan Elgstrand.

Berkeley Design Advocates projects a 30% population growth in the Bay Area by 2040. The organization encourages development of housing in Berkeley to support rising populations as well as economic and racial diversity.

“Our failure to deliver new housing results in those with more money displacing those with less,” said Anthony Bruzzone, Berkeley Design Advocates president, in a statement. “As a result, our prized mixed-income neighborhoods are increasingly wealthy enclaves with less ethnic diversity and less economic diversity.”

Elgstrand noted the city of Berkeley is currently revising their Housing Element, or projected eight-year housing plan, to reflect affordable building requirements set by the RHNA in their new developments.

NX Ventures is spearheading two apartment complex proposals located at 1598 University Ave. and 2601 San Pablo Ave., which will result in a combined 404 units.

NX Ventures co-founder Nathan George plans for 210 units and a 42-spot parking structure at the University Avenue location, the biggest proposal under consideration. Construction would demolish former buildings of North Beach Pizza and the Chinese language Hanwen School. Additionally, 42 of the units would be affordable.

The seven-story San Pablo Avenue property would reserve 20 of its 194 units for very low-income residents to qualify for California’s density bonus law and exceed height restrictions by nearly 30 feet.

Additionally, the property would feature a garage capable of storing 118 bicycles, a trend among newer Berkeley developments in lieu of residential parking minimums.

Elgstrand also noted environmental factors when revising Berkeley’s Housing Element.

“Increasing the number of units on major transit corridors, such as Shattuck, University, and San Pablo, is an important part of meeting our housing requirements while reducing our carbon footprint,” Elgstrand said in an email.

1752 Shattuck Ave., developed by Panoramic Interests owner Patrick Kennedy, will feature 68 units in the seven-story apartment, including at least seven affordable units.

The last property at 2440 Shattuck Ave. will be named “The Lair,” and will focus on student housing, according to Austin Group president Bill Schrader. The Lair will be an eight-story, 40-unit apartment complex similar to the company’s existing property nearby, The Den. With only three affordable units, Schrader expects a $1 million fee to the affordable housing fund.

Lily Button is a crime and courts reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @lilybutton27.

A previous version of this article may have implied the RHNA requires Berkeley to construct 8,934 apartment units. In fact, it only requires Berkeley to plan for this number of units.

A previous version of this infographic incorrectly stated the source was the city of Berkeley Districting Committee. In fact, the source is Berkeleyside.