A proposed development project may bring more than 200 new units of housing to 1598 University Ave. in the next few years.
Nathan George, a developer for this project, suggested that the building would provide beneficial space for retail establishments and help combat the Berkeley housing crisis. The developers are hoping for city approval in mid to late 2023, George said, with construction to follow shortly after and occupancy available in the summer of 2024 or 2025.
“It’s a very undeveloped corner at a pretty big intersection along University Avenue,” George noted. “There’s three partials, and one of them is just a parking lot that we’ve been renting since 2016.”
The space is also occupied by a temporary lease for an after-school Chinese program and the Berkeley location of North Beach Pizza.
North Beach Pizza, which George stated has been struggling for some time, is aiming to move closer to the Downtown Berkeley area. It has been working with the developers since 2016 and are currently examining other developing lots for their relocation, George added.
Designed by Trachtenberg Architects, the project includes retail options to help “activate” the corner at the intersection, according to George. Most of these will be studio apartments, with some one- or two-bedroom units. A few will have small, private roof decks with “great views,” he added.
“It’s got an amazing 6,000 square foot courtyard that’ll be landscaped with great space for entertaining and just congregating, as well as a fitness room, a club room and just great amenities,” George said.
According to George, some of the apartments will be set aside for affordable housing. Ten percent of the units will be reserved for very-low-income residents, capped at 50% average median income, or AMI. Another 10% may be reserved for residents capped at 80% AMI.
George also explained that the plans for affordable housing benefit the scope and viability of the development. The inclusionary housing meets criteria for a state density bonus, permitting increased building area and protecting the project from appeals.
The developers are working with the city to move forward with the project, but the Zoning Adjustments Board will ultimately approve or deny the application.
It is currently too early in the development process to estimate the final cost of the project.
“We’re pretty committed to trying to solve the housing crisis problem by just creating good, well-designed, affordable-by-design projects,” George said. “Hopefully it’s unique to whatever else is out there and will really improve that University corridor to make it a more walkable and retail, pedestrian friendly space.”