By Meghan Hall
The City of Berkeley, like many Bay Area towns, is scrambling to keep pace with population growth. For Berkeley, however, a number of proposals for multifamily projects have been filed in recent months, including for 1598 University Ave. Proposed by NX Ventures, the project would demolish two one-story commercial buildings with the goal of construction of 210 apartments.
The pre-application for the project was filed at the end of January and is currently under review by the City. Plans show that the project team, which also includes Trachtenberg Architects, will take advantage of the State Density Bonus Program, allowing the project team to build 50 percent more units than zoning typically allows. Units will average about 579 square feet and will be a mix of 155 studios, 20 one-bedrooms and 35 two-bedrooms. 21 apartments will be reserved for very-low income residents.
Plans also show that 4,780 square feet of ground-level retail and a 34-car garage will be included. Residents will also have access to a fitness center, clubroom and a 5,000 square foot garden.
Designs indicate that the project will be modern in nature and will utilize a mix of neutral materials. Cast in-place concrete, insulated metal panels in copper, gray and black tones, as well as decorative metal will clad the exterior of the building.
Timing for the project is unclear; however, because the applicant team filed for protection via Senate Bill 330, construction must start within 30 months of permit issuance. NX Ventures originally purchased the property for about $5 million in September of 2021.
The proposal comes as Berkeley grapples with rapid population growth, caused not just by the Bay Area’s economic dynamics, but the City’s proximity to downtown San Francisco and UC Berkeley itself. In recent years, critics of UC have claimed that the university’s development issues have forced tens of thousands of students into surrounding neighborhoods, creating a chaotic housing crunch.
Some relief is indeed in sight. In March, PGIM filed plans to build 326 units at 2190 Shattuck, where it had been previously approved to construct 274 units. 2190 Shattuck is also designed by Trachtenberg Architects. At 2150 Kittredge, plans are moving ahead to construct a seven story, 169-unit residential apartment building. The project is the brainchild of East Beach Capital and Pinnacle Partners, with designs from Kava Massih Architects. Another project of NX Ventures, at 2920 Shattuck, is also in the works. The mixed-use project will rise ten stories in height.
As of this writing, NX Ventures had not yet returned The Registry’s request for comment.