UC Berkeley’s Housing Efforts Have Stalled, but Other Projects are Making Progress, Including New, 169-Unit Housing Development

UC Berkeley, East Beach Capital, Pinnacle Partners, Kava Massih Architects, Berkeley, 2150 Kittredge
Courtesy of Kava Massih Architects

By Meghan Hall

The city of Berkeley has made national headlines over the past several weeks as Cal cuts its enrollment after the university’s attempts at expansion became mired in CEQA litigation. However, as Berkeley continues to grow and demand for new housing arises, private development teams are pursuing projects of their own. 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. The development would include a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 414 square feet to 953 square feet. In addition to the residential units, 16,000 square feet of retail space is also planned, as is a courtyard and roof garden totaling more than 13,000 square feet. 

In order to construct the project, a non-residential building totaling 8,575 square feet, plus an adjacent gas station and car wash, would be demolished. In all, the site totals about 0.75 acres, according to City records.

For Pinnacle Partners, who provided financial backing for the project, Kittredge is the firm’s second project in Northern California. Previously, the company has mostly worked to develop and finance projects in markets such as the Pacific Northwest. For Pinnacle — and the entire development team — there were a number of factors driving development, including lack of available housing product in Berkeley, particularly for students.

“[This project] is very location specific, and we are very focused on OZ markets around the country that are close to major universities and urban areas,” explained Pinnacle’s Managing Partner Leo Backer. “Berkeley is certainly one of those, especially for student housing.”

The development site sits at the heart of downtown Berkeley, just across the street from Edward’s Stadium and near the Berkeley Art Museum. Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, as well as retailers such as Blue Bottle Coffee, Jupiter, and Toss Noodle Bar are all nearby.

“You can’t undersell the location; this is going to be one of the closest projects to campus that we’ve seen,” said Backer. 

Shattuck Street itself has a number of projects in the works as other developers also look to take advantage of Berkeley’s urban amenities, Cal and proximity to major employers. Recently, plans have been filed to build a 10-story mixed-use development at 2920 Shattuck Ave. The development is sponsored by NX Ventures. Also on Shattuck, PGIM is working to modify a previously-approved development at 2190 Shattuck. There, the firm is hoping to build a 25-story, 326-unit residential tower, making it one of the tallest buildings in Berkeley. Pinnacle Partners has closed on a second development partnership in Berkeley in recent weeks, however, Backer declined to disclose details about the deal.

If approved, the projects would add much-needed housing to Berkeley. The supply constrained-community has grown exponentially in recent years but has simultaneously faced a dearth of new projects, driving up rental rates. Cities across the Bay Area are experiencing a similar story: Vacancy and unemployment are trending downward, causing rental rates to rise further, according to a fourth quarter report by Kidder Mathews.  Asking rents have increased 6.19 percent year-over-year, from $2,247 in 2020 to $2,386 in 2021. More than 29,000 units were absorbed in 2021, a trend that will continue as job growth persists.

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