1951 Shattuck Ave. Image: the bay architects
Looking southeast: 1951 Shattuck Ave., next to the approved Acheson Commons (in white). Image: The Bay Architects
Looking southeast: 1951 Shattuck Ave., next to the approved Acheson Commons (in white). Image: The Bay Architects

A 12-story building set to include 92 condominiums and nearly 12,000 square feet of commercial space could get its penultimate review from Berkeley’s Design Review Committee tonight, Aug. 20.

The 120-foot-tall building would, if approved, take the place of one- and two-story buildings that currently exist on the block, housing several local businesses, including Berkeley Vacuum, the Missing Link annex and the Cutaway hair salon.

The project, at 1951-1975 Shattuck Avenue, at Berkeley Way, would be just north of the approved but not yet built Acheson Commons, and across the street from Berkeley Way West, a proposed UC Berkeley project that is slated to house several departments for the campus.

Read more about tall building projects in Berkeley.

The project could become one of seven new tall buildings downtown from 120 to 180 feet tall approved by voters during the Downtown Area Plan process in recent years. Two of those sites are reserved for UC Berkeley.

The San Francisco-based Nasser family first submitted its plans for 1951 Shattuck in December 2013. In June 2014, the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board offered preliminary feedback to the project team.

Looking east from Shattuck Avenue: 1951 Shattuck next to the approved Acheson Commons. Image: the bay architects
Looking east from Shattuck Avenue: 1951 Shattuck next to the approved Acheson Commons. Image: the bay architects

But, for the most part, the group has been adjusting its approach in response to feedback from the city’s Design Review Committee. Tonight’s review will be the project’s fourth appearance before the DRC since April 2014.

According to the staff report prepared for Thursday’s meeting, the project is set to include 88 parking spots in a three-level underground garage. Six car-share spots are proposed, along with space for 104 bicycles.

The ground floor has about 4,300 square feet of retail space. On the second floor, more than 7,600 square feet of office space is planned. The building’s main entrance, for both the lobby and garage, will be on Berkeley Way.

Between a roof deck and private balconies, the project is set to include about 7,400 square feet of usable open space for building residents. A hot tub is planned for the roof, as are numerous solar panels. The units themselves will include from one to three bedrooms and range from 650 to 1,638 square feet.

According to an applicant statement submitted to the city earlier this year, “The clients will be pioneers in developing condominium residential units for ‘adult’ living.… We hope our project will attract those people who desire to live in spacious quarters and to live near the Downtown’s lively urban environment.”

The project team has proposed setting back the building to make more room for “public activities; outdoor cafes, artwork, landscaping, bicycle parking, etc.” on the sidewalk. One possibility on the site, suggested by the applicant, could be a parklet — an effort the city has been trying to promote in recent years. A setback on the southside of the project would “provide better natural light” for both 1951 Shattuck and Acheson Commons.

1951 Shattuck Ave. Image: the bay architects
1951 Shattuck Ave. Image: the bay architects

In the statement, The Bay Architects wrote that “we want to make this building look like it belongs in Berkeley. We’ve stayed away from the curtain wall, metal panel or glass box look of modern buildings. The walls will be of terra cotta or earth tone panels with warm natural colors.”

Since April, it appears the number of units has increased from 78 to 92, and the retail space on the first and second floors has increased too.

In June, the DRC asked the project team to simplify the building elevations and make them more elegant. According to the staff report, changes since then include a simplification of the building’s towers; the elimination of upper-floor balconies and the terra cotta roof parapet “for a lighter appearance at the top”; an increase in the amount of glazing on the upper floors; and the addition of horizontal shading bands on the building’s top three floors.

(See additional feedback from the DRC and what the project team said it has done in response.)

Thursday night, the DRC is set to discuss the building’s massing and step backs, its façade and glazing design, roof elements, open space and landscaping.

Staff has recommended a favorable review from the DRC to the Zoning Adjustments Board, as well as further direction related to building details, including its color and materials.

Also on the agenda: The downtown hotel project at Center Street and Shattuck; 2013 Second St. (19 live-work units); and 1500 San Pablo Ave. (170 residential units — advisory comments only).

The Design Review Committee’s next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 20, at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. Meeting details and project documents are online here. See the project documents on the city website.

Berkeley hotel project drops condos; at DRC this week (08.19.15)
Berkeley council adopts community benefits package (07.16.15)
Harold Way project gets Landmarks Commission approval (08.14.15)
Locals worry new Cal high-rise will reduce parking (01.09.15)
UC Berkeley holds open house about downtown high-rise (01.07.15)
Berkeley hotel plans halted pending initiative vote (08.07.14)
At B-Side: Implications of downtown Berkeley initiative (07.22.14)
Berkeley tall condo project gets first city reviews (06.30.14)
‘Explosive’ downtown Berkeley housing boom under way (01.14.14)
New 120-foot building proposed for downtown (12.09.13)
New aquatics center raises parking, planning concerns (04.04.13)

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...