A rendering of the ground-floor commercial space on Allston Way at the new high-rise at 2190 Shattuck Ave. Credit: Trachtenberg Architects

Without much fanfare, the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board unanimously approved a permit Thursday for the tallest apartment building downtown to date — a 25-story high-rise at 2190 Shattuck Ave.

The 326-unit building, developed by Georgia-based Landmark Properties, will rise 268 feet over the site of the Walgreens Pharmacy next to Downtown Berkeley BART at Allston Way.

It will have ground-floor commercial space, 32 affordable units for tenants who qualify as very low-income, transit passes for all tenants, underground parking for 51 vehicles and 295 bikes, a roof deck for residents, and a publicly accessible community room.

It’s the first high-rise apartment building to be approved in the neighborhood, with two other major projects — the 26-story HUB Berkeley at Center Street and Oxford Way and the 26-story project at Shattuck and University avenues — slated for ZAB review in the upcoming year.

The project, which puts an emphasis on family housing, falls under SB 330, a 2019 state housing law that limits local control over developments that are at least two-thirds residential and contain affordable housing. That law also streamlines the meeting process and makes developers eligible for a density bonus.

Jared Munneke, development manager at Landmark Properties, said his team (working with Trachtenberg Architects) wants the building to align with the aesthetic values of Berkeley. Landmark Properties took over the building after funding for the original 18-story project fell through.

“I can’t think of a better place to have affordable housing than next to affordable transit options like BART,” Munneke said. “That really adds economic diversity not only to the building, but to downtown as well.”

Erin Diehm and Kelly Hammergren present on bird safety at the ZAB meeting on March 30, 2023. Credit: ZAB meeting screenshot

Public comment was limited Thursday evening at the ZAB’s hybrid meeting, but those who spoke were overwhelmingly in favor of the project.

Some raised concerns over bird safety, which ZAB will ask developers to consider as they move forward with the project. The project will abide by the city’s bird-safe building requirements, but public commenters and the board asked the developers to go above and beyond those standards and use bird-safe glass throughout.

“There’s no more-beloved figures in Berkeley right now than Annie and Lou, the peregrine falcons,” commissioner Shoshana O’Keefe said. “People are obsessed with them, and if one of those birds flies into your building and is harmed — you will be the villains.”

Commissioner Igor Tregub noted that similar ZAB hearings in the past would stretch well past midnight, but both state law and his personal positions on the matter of growing Berkeley’s housing stock have evolved in the last decade.

“I think the most important aspect — of what is really the obligation of any jurisdiction — is to allow for the production of housing of many types that folks of many different socioeconomic situations are able to live in,” Tregub said.

The building will likely begin construction next summer, and eventually rise 70 feet taller than the current tallest building downtown — the SkyDeck building a few steps away at 2150 Shattuck Ave.

The only taller building in the city is The Campanile on the UC Berkeley campus.

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Supriya Yelimeli is a housing and homelessness reporter for Berkeleyside and joined the staff in May 2020 after contributing reporting since 2018 as a freelance writer. Yelimeli grew up in Fremont and...