Core Spaces Pitches 17-Story Student Housing Development in Downtown Berkeley

Core Spaces, UC Berkeley, DLR Group, Berkeley
Courtesy of DLR Group

By Meghan Hall

Downtown Berkeley could see another major project added to the mix in the coming years. At the end of August, residential developer Core Spaces submitted plans for “The HUB,” a new, 17-story mixed use project to be located at 2128 Oxford and 2132-2154 Center Street. The project will bring 285 new units to a bustling part of Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART Station, downtown and U.C. Berkeley.

In addition to the dwelling units, Core spaces has planned 10,164 square feet of ground floor retail and restaurant spaces. The spaces can be divvied up into as few as three separate entities, or as many as seven. Plans also include a publicly accessible coffee bar in the lobby at the corner of Center and Oxford Streets, as well as 63 parking spaces located in stackers.

At roof level, Core Spaces has laid out upland for an open roof deck complete with a club lounge. Seating and other furnishes will be provided. At level 12, another large amenity deck totaling 10,200 square feet, is planned. The deck will include grilling stations, dining and seating, as well as hot tubs. An open lawn for flexible programming will also be included. At level two, more green space can be accessed through a viewing garden totaling 1,100 square feet of planted area.

The project will replace 17 rent-controlled units currently on the site. The two buildings also currently include storefront retail and restaurant uses on the ground floor. City documents note that currently, just one rent-controlled unit is occupied and that Core Spaces is working to terminate the final lease. New affordable units will be included in the new project, and Core Spaces also intends to pay $10 million into the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

The development will be designed by DLR Group. The overall design will be pulled from the surrounding neighborhood. Retail will be located on Center Street and the facade will take cues from historic buildings near the site. The tower will also feature “playful” fenestration and cementitious materials that are reflective of Spanish colonial tiles found throughout Berkeley’s architecture. The building will pull back at the southeast corner, allowing for more room for pedestrians, as well. The project will also make use of brick and earth-toned materials.

The scale of the building will be further broken down to play to the pedestrian realm. The incorporation of datum lines, human-scaled openings and wall treatments will be utilized to break down the bulk and massing of the development. The building will also feature asymmetry and curves responding to the adjacent Berkeley Museum, combining its more modern flare with traditional building frontages found around the neighborhood.

“The project creates an elegant piece of architecture that pays homage to its context through materiality and detail, while embracing the history and soul of cultural revolution and the concepts of community, progress, love and continual change,” project documents state. “The design presents a duality that reflects a stoic and sophisticated outside and a rebellious vibrant inside.” 

The second quarter of 2021 was a busy one for Chicago-based Core Spaces, with both groundbreakings and acquisitions in markets such as Atlanta, Los Angeles and State College, Penn. In February of this year, the company launched a $1 billion student housing acquisition fund to finance the acquisition of a number of new properties in collegiate communities in Raleigh, N.C., Bloomington, Ind., and others. Since the company’s founding in 2010, Core Spaces has grown. Currently, the company owns or manages 37 assets nationwide. The assets total more than 16,000 units. Additionally, Core Spaces has an additional development pipeline of 33,000 units at various stages of development.

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