A small residential hotel project in South Berkeley, from Patrick Kennedy‘s Panoramic Interests, is picking up steam after lying dormant since 2010.
Kennedy said Thursday he’s aiming to break ground in June, and would like to open for business in a year, if all goes well. He said the extended-stay units at the hotel are designed for short-term tenants, such as professors or other people coming to the city for brief periods who need a place to live.
“We just think it’s an unmet need in the city,” he said, of why he’s building a residential hotel. “We’re using it as kind of a laboratory to find a way to build housing more efficiently.”
Kennedy said he is looking into the possibility of using prefabricated components to speed up construction and allow for more affordable units on site.
Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board unanimously approved a modification to the project’s use permit as part of its Dec. 11 consent calendar, to expand the building’s footprint by 8 feet, and its overall floor area by about 1,300 square feet.
The 4-story building had already been approved to include 22 residential hotel rooms, and no parking. Kennedy said the site will, however, include one car-share spot, and space in the back for 22 bikes.
There was no public or commissioner comment about the project at the zoning board meeting. According to the Dec. 11 staff report, the city mailed 110 notices in late November to adjoining property owners and occupants, and interested neighborhood organizations. Staff also posted notices in three locations, but had received no comments as of early December.
The project would take the place of a parking lot just north of what was the UC Storage — now Central Self-Storage — building at 2721 Shattuck. It is set mid-block between Derby and Ward streets. To the north, at 2701 Shattuck, developers failed to win approval for a mixed-use micro-unit apartment building, but said in 2013 that there are still plans to build out the site based on earlier permits from the city.
The hotel project initially won approval from the city in February 2010. Kennedy told Berkeleyside by email in September 2013 that the project was still a go, but that Panoramic Interests was “sorting out some title issues” at that time. As of this month, it’s full steam ahead, and Kennedy said Thursday that he’s already in the process of getting bids from contractors interested in the work.
From the staff report: “The project would include an on-site resident manager. The approved project limited the rents at a level affordable to moderate income individuals.”
The modified use permit allows for a longer building that still has a “substantial setback,” taller windows, more drought-tolerant plants on the property, and revised unit layouts “to create a larger and more usable kitchen, and to open up the living and sleeping areas,” according to the staff report.
The Shattuck Avenue project is Kennedy’s first housing development slated to come to Berkeley since 2004, though he completed commercial projects in 2009 — at UC Storage — and in 2010, in the 2100 block of Center Street, where Ippuku and Ben & Jerry’s can be found.
Kennedy said it will be his first residential hotel project in Berkeley. A 68-unit project, owned by Soheyl Modarressi — the developer behind North Berkeley’s Epicurious Garden — was approved by the zoning board in 2008 at 2136 Center St., but has not been built.
Kennedy is also in the early stages of a project he hopes to build at 2539 Telegraph Ave. between Dwight Way and Parker Street in Southside Berkeley. That project, in the former Center for Independent Living site, has met with resistance from neighbors, however, and raised questions about the fate of a historic mural in its rear parking lot.
See the draft Environmental Impact Report for 2539 Telegraph on the city website.
In recent years, downtown Berkeley has seen a spate of housing projects come through the pipeline, and numerous new businesses open. Kennedy said “the clamor for housing in the East Bay, generally, from San Francisco expats,” as well as increasing rental activity downtown, have been indicators to him of the potential for some of that growth to spread beyond the downtown core.
He said Thursday that both of his projects, on Shattuck and Telegraph, are the first residential ones along their respective stretches. Kennedy said he believes they will “jumpstart” more density nearby on both streets, which he described as “woebegone for quite a few years” in the vicinity of what he hopes to build.
Kennedy said he didn’t know about any plans to develop the property north of his, at 2701 Shattuck, but noted that the opening in November of Sports Basement — in the former Iceland location in South Berkeley — had been a “welcome development” in the neighborhood: “It adds a little bit of life to what has been a moribund section of the city.”
See the full project history and documents on the city website.
Decades-old mural could derail Berkeley apartment project (11.25.14)
$750K grant may bring big changes to South Berkeley (08.19.14)
Neighbors question parking, height of student-oriented housing planned on Telegraph (07.16.14)
‘Explosive’ downtown Berkeley housing boom under way (01.14.14)
1,000 new apartments planned for downtown Berkeley (02.07.13)
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