A rendering of 2590 Bancroft Way
A rendering of 2590 Bancroft Way, Berkeley. Image: Trachtenberg Architects

Even with about half of its meetings canceled this year amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Berkeley’s zoning board has approved eight medium-to-large housing projects in 2020 totalling 560 units. They include student housing, micro units, homeless housing, possible co-living and more. Here’s a list of what’s been approved.

2590 Bancroft Way: Student apartments

The Zoning Adjustments Board unanimously approved 2590 Bancroft Way, aka The Croft, in late June. The 87-unit student housing development (at Bowditch Street) couldn’t be much closer to the UC Berkeley campus. A two-story commercial building will be demolished to make way for the eight-story project, which was designed by Berkeley’s Trachtenberg Architects. The project is slated to include five very-low-income units and pay $2.16 million into the city’s Housing Trust Fund, which is used to fund below-market-rate housing throughout the city. (See the income limits for subsidized units on the city website.) Alternatively, developers could build 18 units on-site. Under Berkeley’s rules, developers don’t have to make that decision until later down the line. Four commercial spaces are planned. There are 40 long-term biking parking spaces in the plans but no parking for vehicles. See project documents on the city website.

2150-76 Kittredge: Goodbye, Touchless car wash

A rendering of 2150-76 Kittredge St.
A rendering of 2150-76 Kittredge St., Berkeley. Image: Kava Massih Architects

Many may mourn the loss of one of the best car washes around, but it is slated to be replaced by 2020’s biggest project to date: 165 apartments on two adjoining parcels right next to the UC Berkeley campus. The seven-story building at 2150-76 Kittredge St. (at Fulton Street) was designed by Kava Massih Architects. The zoning board approved the project unanimously in March (one board member was absent). There will be an underground garage for 52 vehicles, 89 bicycle parking spaces, and 23,000 square feet of commercial space. According to an applicant statement from January, all of the parking spaces will be EV-ready and 28 of them will have charging stations. The project would not include any subsidized units on-site, according to a staff report. Project documents indicate the owner plans to pay $6 million into the city’s Housing Trust Fund. Berkeleyside has asked Kava Massih for confirmation. See project documents on the city website.

3000 San Pablo: Aquatic VI

The zoning board approved the newest Aquatic development, at 3000 San Pablo Ave. (at Ashby Avenue), earlier this month. It’s the sixth building in town in the Aquatic series. Like the others, it was designed by Trachtenberg Architects and developed by Read Investments. Aquatic VI will be a six-story building with 78 units. Under the zoning code, the project can either include seven very-low-income units on-site and pay $1.5 million into the Housing Trust Fund or include all 16 subsidized units on-site. The project has parking for 43 vehicles and 50 bikes, along with a 1,248-square-foot commercial space at street level. See project documents on the city website. More images of 3000 San Pablo are posted on the architect’s website.

Worth noting: Berkeley firm Trachtenberg Architects designed five of the eight projects approved by the zoning board so far this year. Firm founder David Trachtenberg told Berkeleyside he puts a premium on making sure his projects are well designed and well presented, with architectural renderings that seek to make the buildings “look like they’re alive.” The firm also works to be responsive to neighborhood concerns throughout the planning process to minimize impacts, he said, which has resulted in a reputation for getting things done: “We listen to people and are willing to make adjustments,” he said. “The public process part isn’t lip service.”

2099 Martin Luther King Jr. Way: Seven stories, 72 units

The zoning board approved 2099 MLK, designed by Kava Massih, in June. (Commissioner John Selawsky abstained.) Berkeley Goodyear used to operate at this location just south of University Avenue, but it became Berkeley Car Care in recent years. That single-story auto shop will be demolished to make way for a seven-story building with 72 units. “The corner site is ripe for development since the existing building and the function leaves a lot to be desired in such a prominent location,” Kava Massih wrote in the applicant statement. Also included: a ground-floor garage with 12 vehicle parking spaces and storage for 65 bikes. The project is slated to include five very-low-income units and also pay into the Housing Trust Fund. Berkeleyside has asked Kava Massih for the amount it will pay. See project documents on the city website.

2023-25 Shattuck: Shattuck Square “micro studios”

This seven-story project at 2023-25 Shattuck Ave. fits 48 units into a “tiny 3,700 sf lot” one block from the UC Berkeley campus just south of University Avenue. Units range in size from 350-427 square feet. Mandarin Garden Chinese restaurant operated at the site until a fire closed the business in 2015. Owner Mevlanrumi, LLC, has the option to include 10 subsidized units on-site or put four very-low-income units on-site and pay approximately $977,000 into the city’s Housing Trust Fund. According to Trachtenberg Architects, “The building seeks to set a new standard for the development of high-density housing in the downtown area. The building is being designed to LEED Gold standards.” The zoning board approved the project in June. There’s storage for 34 bicycles and no vehicle parking. See project documents on the city website.

2650 Telegraph: 45 units in five stories

The zoning board approved this five-story building, with 45 units, at 2650 Telegraph Ave. (at Derby Street) in March with one absence and one abstention. The project, designed by Trachtenberg Architects, would have four very-low-income units on-site and pay $872,100 into the Housing Trust Fund or include all nine subsidized units on-site. The existing commercial building would be demolished. Site plans include space for 50 bikes and 20 vehicles. Family-owned Mediterranean restaurant Bacheesos was located on the site until it closed in November 2019 (The restaurant still has a branch in Oakland at 246 Grand Ave.) See project documents on the city website. More images of 2650 Telegraph are posted on the architect’s website.

1367 University: Pre-fab homeless housing

Earlier this month, the zoning board unanimously approved a new project from Panoramic Interests for a 39-unit complex made from modular construction to house people who were formerly homeless. The project was designed by Trachtenberg Architects. Local nonprofit Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) will run the operation, which could open within a year barring delays. The supportive housing project at 1367 University Ave., near Acton Street, would be staffed round-the-clock by seven BOSS employees. Residents would get help with employment, housing navigation and benefits eligibility, as well as training related to cognitive skills, nutrition and restorative justice, among other opportunities designed to “help people stabilize and connect to the community in a positive way.” Read the full story on Berkeleyside.

2720 San Pablo: Higher bedroom counts, possible co-living

A rendering of 2720 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. Image: Devi Dutta Architecture

On Thursday night, the zoning board approved this six-story, 25-unit project — with 97 bedrooms — designed by Berkeley’s Devi Dutta Architecture. The project team had to rethink its plans for 2720 San Pablo Ave. (at Pardee Street) in recent years in response to rising construction costs and Berkeley zoning code changes, co-owner Rhoades Planning Group said in application materials: The building now has “a more varied unit portfolio, which includes units with higher bedroom counts that might be used in a co-living model or as a standard apartment rental project.” The new building will replace a former auto service station. As planned, the project has about 960 square feet of retail on the ground floor, along with two studios, eight three-bedroom and eight four-bedroom units, three five-bedroom units and four six-bedroom units. Two of the units will be subsidized at the very-low-income level, and the owner will also pay about $600,000 into the Housing Trust Fund. The project has space for 15 vehicles and storage for 50 bikes. See project materials on the city website.

See more housing stories on Berkeleyside. For more on Berkeley housing, see Berkeleyside’s housing pipeline map, which was last updated in August 2019. We’ll have another update in the fall. 

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...