By Meghan Hall
The City of Berkeley, with its lack of land and potent NIMBYISM, has seen far fewer projects cross the finish line in comparison to other major Bay Area cities. However, a previously approved tower could get a big upgrade if the City of Berkeley gives the development team the green light. In February, PGIM filed a pre-application for a 25-story, 326-unit tower at 2190 Shattuck Ave.
Currently, the property is developed with a Walgreens, which would be demolished to make way for the new project. The project site is at the center of Berkeley’s core, less than a block from the Downtown Berkeley BART Station, UC Berkeley, and a number of shops and restaurants such as Trader Joe’s, IMM Thai Street Food and Marugame Udon.
PGIM, which spearheads asset management for Prudential Investment Management, originally acquired the property in April of 2015 for $23 million, according to public records, and has been working diligently on plans to redevelop the site over the past several years. PGIM’s initial pitch–approved in early 2019–included an 18 story tower with 274 units, 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and underground parking. The project has been dubbed the Shattuck Terrace Green Apartments.
PGIM had partnered with Mill Creek Residential to redevelop the site. However, after Mill Creek withdrew from the project, PGIM went back to the drawing board in order to make the development more financially feasible, according to industry reports.
Under the new proposal, the tower could be one of the tallest in Berkeley. To gain that extra height–and square footage–the project team will take advantage of California’s density bonus law. Under the law, developers can increase density at a project site if affordable housing is included within the development. About 33 affordable units would be provided at 2190 Shattuck. The development team will also contribute $6 million towards Berkeley’s affordable housing fund.
2190 Shattuck will also be getting a new design, courtesy of Trachtenberg Architects. Renderings show that instead of a stepped massing, a thin, sleek tower will rise on the site. A warmer materials palette will also be used, while balconies will provide additional visual interest and modulation.
Getting the latest version of the project approved could be difficult; in 2019, Berkeley officials rejected several appeals challenging the project. And, while zoning within Berkeley’s downtown core allows for development of up to 180 feet, just one tower has been completed: a Residence Inn by Marriott that rises 16 stories. In recent years, an 18-story, 300-unit tower at 2211 Harold Way was scrapped after meeting resistance from the community, while over at UC Berkeley, university leaders are cutting enrollment after its projects were challenged via CEQA lawsuits.
Timing for the approval of 2190 Shattuck’s latest proposal is unclear, but would require review by the City before moving forward. As of this writing, the development team had not yet provided comment for this story.