Berkeley Design Committee Moves Forward Proposal for 127-Unit Mixed-Use Building

Berkeley Design Committee, Berkeley, Zoning Adjustments Board, Grubb Properties, 3031 Telegraph Berkeley LLC, Devi Dutta Architecture Inc, Charlotte, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans, Bay Area, Youth Credit Union Program, Mission District, Film Arts Foundation, SOMA, Link Apartments

By Kate Snyder

Berkeley could soon see more housing sprout up. A proposal for a 127-unit mixed-use project was approved by the Berkeley Design Review Committee during the board’s meeting on Feb. 16. From here, the project will go to the Zoning Adjustments Board and then return to the committee for a final design review.

The project developer is 3031 Telegraph Berkeley, LLC, which shares an address with Grubb Properties, a real estate fund manager focused on essential housing. The project designer is Devi Dutta Architecture, Inc., based in Berkeley.

The proposal includes demolishing an existing two-story, 24,500 square foot medical office building located at 3031 Telegraph Ave. and constructing in its place a six-story, 100,992 square foot mixed-use building, according to project plans. Of the total 127 units proposed, the project would feature 54 studios, 54 one-bedroom and 19 two-bedroom apartments, including nine units for very low income households.

Also, the building would have 1,921 square feet of commercial space and 7,622 square feet of usable open space in the form of a strolling garden, private balconies, a second-floor courtyard and a roof deck. There are also plans for 19 vehicle parking stalls and 64 bicycle parking spaces.

The 0.72-acre site is a corner lot with frontage on Telegraph Avenue and Webster Street, according to city records. The parcel also includes a paved parking lot with 44 off-street parking stalls with vehicle access from both Telegraph and Webster along with nine trees located within the parking lot.

The recent meeting was focused on changes to the design from the last time the project was presented to city officials. Ian Wulfson, architect with Devi Dutta Architecture, detailed some of the modifications to the proposal.

“There are no changes to the height or the number of stories or the massing,” Wulfson said. “There’s a slight increase in the interior area, from 99,000 square feet to about 101,000 square feet, and an increase in the number of units from 110 units to 127 units, and a slight reduction in the total number of bedrooms.”

Plans also include several other design changes. The residential lobby was expanded to include leasing office space, a package room with a break room and bike storage located directly adjacent to the back of the lobby area. A fitness room was added at the west edge of the building, adjacent to the residential lobby. Parking was reduced from 29 to 19 stalls. The main building stairway in the southwest corner was relocated to the south elevation. The color palette was refined and amenity space was added adjacent to podium courtyard space.

Committee members were pleased by a number of details in the project’s design but also offered suggestions for more changes that would be reviewed at future meetings. Many recommendations were essentially asking for more details on the building, such as extending the building’s balconies, adding more details to the white portion of the structure, more color on the east facade and more details on the structure’s entryway.

“I’m excited to see what you’re able to come up with in your final [design],” Charles Kahn, committee member, told the project representatives.

Devi Dutta Architecture was founded by Devi Dutta-Choudhury in 2008, according to the firm’s website. The company has provided design services to nonprofit organizations throughout the Bay Area, including the Youth Credit Union Program in San Francisco’s Mission District and the Film Arts Foundation in SOMA. Dutta-Choudhury’s work has been exhibited in galleries in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Orleans.

Grubb Properties is based in Charlotte, N.C., and according to its website is focused on housing projects that target residents earning between 60 percent and 140 percent of area median income. The firm pursues essential housing through its Link Apartments developments, which are located throughout the country. 

“The golden rule for us is location, basis and design,” the firm’s website states. “To meet the demand for essential housing, we use a number of creative development methods such as innovative site acquisition, a shared parking strategy, design efficiencies offering just six floor plans at our communities, partnerships and pursuing tax breaks with localities.”

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