The proposal for 2720 San Pablo Ave. Image: Devi Dutta Architecture
The proposal for 2720 San Pablo Ave. Image: Devi Dutta Architecture

A new proposal has come in, on the former Jered’s Pottery lot, for a 5-story, 39-unit building on San Pablo Avenue in West Berkeley.

The pottery shop, at 2720 San Pablo Ave. between Carleton and Pardee streets, closed last year and moved to Richmond. The property at that time was on sale for $1.4 million; a 4-story 18-unit building had already been approved there.

The major transit corridor has been the focus of much development in recent years, with more changes potentially coming, including a large urgent care facility and hundreds of new apartments approved and proposed.

Scroll down for a round-up of more projects on San Pablo.

A 1-story garage (later used as the pottery studio) would be demolished to make way for the new building, designed by Berkeley-based Devi Dutta Architecture.

According to the applicant statement, the former gas and auto service station would be replaced by a “mixed-use and transit-oriented infill project” that includes ground-floor commercial space under four stories of apartments. 

A 3-story apartment building, approved in 2014 by the city, is under construction just west of the corner lot where owner “2720 San Pablo Avenue LLC” — represented by the Rhoades Planning Group — hopes to build. The managing member of the LLC is identified in project documents as Xin Jin. (Elsewhere on the city website, Berkeley-based Charlie Group LLC is listed as the owner.)

The project has been designed to fit between the apartments currently being built and another project at 2700 San Pablo that was completed in 2008, according to project documents.

“This proposed project has been designed to work within the constraints imposed by those two projects while providing a high quality living environment and new commercial presence along one of Berkeley’s most significant transit corridors,” according to the applicant statement.

The proposal for 2720 San Pablo Ave. Image: Devi Dutta Architecture
The proposal for 2720 San Pablo Ave. Image: Devi Dutta Architecture

The two commercial spaces at 2720 San Pablo would be used for retail and a neighborhood-serving cafe. Vehicle and bike parking would be provided on the ground level. Currently, there would be 34 parking spaces for residents and three for commercial uses. There are 41 bike parking spaces proposed in a secure area, and eight spots on the sidewalk for public use.

Parking will be “unbundled,” meaning residents can choose whether or not to pay for a spot.

The unit mix is set to include 12 two-bedrooms, 20 one-bedrooms and seven studios. Residents would have access to a second-level courtyard and two roof decks.

Four of the units would be affordable at 50% of the area median income, making the project eligible for a state density bonus, according to project documents. That would allow construction up to 5 stories and 60 feet, according to the documents.

Green features proposed on site include a rooftop solar photovoltaic system, drought-tolerate landscaping, LED and low-voltage lighting and a mechanical “lift” parking system “to reduce land reliance” for vehicle parking.

“These elements, as well as the provision of transit-oriented housing, will help the City of Berkeley to meet Climate Action Plan goals,” according to the applicant statement.

As for construction elements, the project is set to feature “High-quality materials including aluminum storefront systems, perforated corten gates, painted metal fascia and smooth finish cement plaster, with stainless steel perforated corrugated metal accents.”

According to project materials, mailers were sent to neighbors within 300 feet of the project site in November. Two people stopped by a meeting Nov. 30 with the project team: “One neighbor expressed enthusiasm about the redevelopment of this currently vacant corner. The second neighbor asked questions about noise related to mechanical equipment on the roof.”

The project was submitted to the city in January. It has not yet been seen by or scheduled before the Design Review Committee or Zoning Adjustments Board, so actual construction — assuming approval — could still be a long time coming. Projects often change as a result of that process in response to public feedback and suggestions from board members.

Other projects in the works, proposed or approved in recent years

The proposed view at San Pablo Avenue and Jones Street. Image: Pyatok Architects
The proposed view at San Pablo Avenue and Jones Street, where 170 units were approved. Image: Pyatok Architects

A number of other mixed-use projects have been proposed or approved recently on San Pablo Avenue.

In May, the zoning board approved 170 new units on San Pablo near Cedar Street, about a mile north of 2720 San Pablo. That project was appealed to council, which rejected the appeal Tuesday night, July 19.

Spirit Residential hopes to build 91 new apartments over an underground parking garage just south of Addison Street, about half-way between those two projects.

And, less than half a mile south of 2720 San Pablo, at Ashby Avenue, The Higby is a 98-unit project that was completed in 2015 after lying vacant for years.

It’s not just the housing market that’s changing, either.

One block south of 2720 San Pablo, at 2734 San Pablo, John Gordon — whose firm is in contract to buy the property — is asking the city to change the use of that site from service to retail. It’s currently the Hydraulic Service Center. Gordon wants to lease the 10,000-square-foot space as “speculative retail.”

According to a sales listing for the property online, the site “is surrounded by cafes and restaurants and just a quarter mile from the West Berkeley Bowl and the Orchard Supply Hardware shopping center. Over 300 apartments have been built in West Berkeley over the last couple of years with several hundred more slated.”

And down at 3100 San Pablo, in the Marchant building, there’s a proposal from UCSF and John Muir Health to build a nearly 100,000-square-foot urgent care facility that spans four floors. That project, called the BayHealth Outpatient Center, was just submitted to the city July 1. Berkeleyside will keep an eye on developments there, particularly as Sutter Health has announced plans to transition from inpatient to outpatient care in Berkeley before 2030.

Residents who have expressed concern in the past about all the development happening on San Pablo Avenue have said the city needs to work quickly — before it’s too late — to create a San Pablo Avenue Plan that will codify ideas about how the corridor should grow. The city has worked with the public to create a number of plans over the years to develop goals to both guide development and protect neighborhood character.

The West Berkeley Plan was adopted in 1993. There has never been a plan for San Pablo Avenue.

Read more real estate stories on Berkeleyside. Read more about housing in Berkeley.

170 new units approved in West Berkeley (05.16.16)
91 units over underground parking proposed on San Pablo (05.05.16)
Housing forum: Climate right for development in Berkeley (01.25.16)
Apartment, townhouse complex slated for San Pablo Ave. (04.08.15)
Work begins on controversial Berkeley housing project (12.03.13)
West Berkeley: A pivotal moment [Slideshow] (02.22.11)

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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...