Developer pitches 3 buildings in South Berkeley, big downtown projects open

New plans call for nearly 500 new apartments spread across three sites along Shattuck Avenue in South Berkeley.

A rendering shows developer NX Ventures’ plans for a nine-story apartment building at the corner of Shattuck and Ashby avenues. The developer previously gained city approval for a five-story structure at the site, but says that project is no longer financially viable. Credit: Trachtenberg Architects

A trip up Shattuck Avenue these days is a tour of Berkeley’s housing pipeline.

Several blocks of the corridor in South Berkeley could be in for dramatic changes, with three proposals from the same developer that could combine to bring nearly 500 new apartments to the neighborhood.

And in downtown Berkeley, construction crews have started work on three buildings along Shattuck and Kala Bagai Way, while residents are moving into recently completed apartments in two of the city’s largest-ever housing developments.

Here’s a roundup of recent updates to several projects that are reshaping Shattuck:

Three South Berkeley sites eyed for new buildings

Developer NX Ventures has significantly revised its earlier plans for what is now the site of a gas station and smog testing center on the corner of Shattuck and Ashby avenues. Instead of a five-story, 23-unit “co-living” project, which the City Council approved in 2018, the firm now wants to build a nine-story, 156-unit apartment building on the roughly 13,500-square-foot site at 3000 Shattuck Ave.

Developer NX Ventures wants to build a 10-story apartment building on a site now occupied by the True Value hardware store and The Model Garage. Credit: Google

One block to the north, at 2900 Shattuck Ave., NX Ventures has submitted a pre-application for a 10-story, 221-unit building — another upward revision from a six-story plan the team pitched in 2020 on the site that now houses a hardware store and auto repair shop.

And earlier this month, the firm submitted a pre-application for a nine-story, 112-unit project on the opposite corner at 2847 Shattuck Ave.

“This will be a good nexus of properties near Berkeley Bowl and Ashby BART station,” NX Ventures co-founder Nathan George said in an interview.

George said his firm scaled up its plans for 3000 Shattuck Ave. because the project was no longer financially viable after making it through a years-long city approval process.

“It took so long to get the whole thing approved that construction costs had gone up and it didn’t pencil,” George said. “If it takes too long, then the project doesn’t work out and you have to pivot to something else.”

NX Ventures wants to build another apartment building at 2847 Shattuck Ave. Credit: Google

Each of the proposed projects aim to take advantage of California’s “density bonus” law, which allows developers to exceed local zoning restrictions in exchange for including a certain percentage of affordable units. About 10% of the units in each building will be set aside for renters who are considered very low income; George said the development team is still deciding whether to include more affordable units or pay a fee to meet Berkeley’s affordable housing requirements.

NX Ventures is also pursuing plans for two more buildings with around 200 units apiece elsewhere in Berkeley, one at 1598 University Ave. and the other at 2601 San Pablo Ave.

Two other South Berkeley projects the firm had pitched in recent years — an apartment building on the current site of a used car lot at 2801 Shattuck Ave., and a hotel and apartment complex where the Walgreens on Adeline Street now sits — are currently on hold, George said.

The 3000 Shattuck Ave. project has not yet been scheduled for a hearing before the Zoning Adjustments Board.

George said NX Ventures plans to submit full project applications for the 2900 and 2847 Shattuck Ave. buildings later this year; he declined to share renderings for those projects.

Acheson Commons nears the finish line

One of the four buildings in the new Modera Acheson Commons complex in downtown Berkeley, which welcomed its first residents last year. Credit: Nico Savidge

More than a decade after it was first proposed as the biggest housing development in Berkeley’s history and four years after construction began, the 205-unit apartment complex formerly known as Acheson Commons is almost complete.

Now called Modera Acheson Commons, two of the complex’s four buildings welcomed their first residents last year. A spokesman for developer Mill Creek Residential said crews hope to finish and open the other two buildings before the start of UC Berkeley’s fall semester.

The complex takes up most of the block bound by Shattuck Avenue, University Avenue, Berkeley Way and Walnut Street. Work on the site included the renovation of the historic Acheson Physicians’ Building, as well as the preservation of several distinctive facades that now adorn the lower levels of new apartments.

Another big project opens first building, starts second

The first of two buildings in the 204-unit Identity Logan Park apartment complex opened in January. Crews are now building the second phase of the project next door. Credit: Nico Savidge

The first of two buildings in a 204-unit complex that has transformed the west side of Shattuck Avenue’s 2300 block is finished, and work is underway on the second.

Bill Schrader, CEO of the Austin Group, the project’s developer, said the eight-story, 135-unit first phase of the project at the corner of Shattuck and Durant avenues opened in January. The student-centric complex known as Identity Logan Park is “pretty much already leased up” for the fall semester, Schrader said.

Meanwhile, on the southern half of the block, demolition crews knocked down the building that once housed a Chase Bank branch, Endless Summer Sweets and Heat Cafe to make way for the project’s second phase; the bank and candy shop have moved into new spaces in the building next door. That eight-story building could be finished in time for the start of the 2023-24 academic year, Schrader said, “With a little luck with supply chains and weather.”

Two more projects getting underway

A strip of storefronts at the corner of Shattuck and Berkeley Way was demolished this spring, marking the start of work on a 12-story apartment project from developer Grovesnor Americas. Approved in 2019, the development at 1951 Shattuck Ave. is rising next door to Modera Acheson Commons.

When it’s finished, the building is set to include 156 apartments, 5,000 square feet of commercial space, a 90-car garage and storage space for 90 bicycles.

A rendering of 2023-25 Shattuck Ave.
A rendering of the seven-story “micro-studio” development planned at 2023-25 Shattuck Ave. Credit: Trachtenberg Architects

A block away, crews are working on another project, squeezing 48 “micro-studio” apartments onto a 3,700-square-foot property at 2023 Shattuck Ave., on the stretch of the corridor that was renamed Kala Bagai Way in 2020.

Units in the seven-story Shattuck Square building at the former site of Mandarin Garden restaurant, which was destroyed by a fire in 2015, will range from 350 to 427 square feet. Developer Mevlanrumi, LLC plans to include storage space for 34 bicycles and no on-site parking at the development, which was approved in 2020.

Nico Savidge is Berkeleyside's senior reporter covering city hall. Email: nico@berkeleyside.org. Twitter: NSavidge.