By Emilie Raguso, Berkeleyside
More than 1,400 housing units are currently in development in downtown Berkeley, with demolition preparations on one of the first big projects getting under way this week.
There are eight projects, including a hotel, planned in the downtown core. Two more are planned just south of downtown, on Dwight Way, with another proposal on University Avenue just west of downtown that’s set to have its first public city review next week.
Pre-demolition work on a former church-turned-office-space started this week, according to the Downtown Berkeley Association. CEO John Caner said that construction work on a new apartment complex at the site, The Durant, with frontage on both Durant Avenue and Channing Way, should start several weeks from now.
According to Downtown Berkeley Association calculations, the new projects will bring at least 1,414 new units and more than 88,000 square feet of new retail space to the downtown area. Not included in those calculations is the project just beginning city review, The Overture, which would bring an additional 44 units and 4,151 square feet of retail and restaurant space to the city’s core.
A recently published association brochure described the growth as “explosive,” and described the population gains expected in the city as a result.
“Downtown Berkeley has nearly doubled in population since 2000 and now counts some 3,000 residents in its thirty block footprint,” according to the pamphlet. “The number of residents will nearly double again to 5,000 with over 1,400 new housing units slated for completion by 2018.”
Experts say the boom signals a rebounding economy. The city has also taken steps to incentivize construction by reducing associated fees related to development within the city limits.
Critics of the boom say Berkeley may face problems as a result of increased density, whether from greater traffic and parking headaches to more issues with noise. Some criticize projects aimed to house students, noting that the university itself should be taking steps to shelter its students, rather than placing the burden on the city and private developers. Many say the city needs more family-oriented housing, as well. The specter of steeper rents and a lack of affordable housing are also causing public concern.
Last year at about this time, Berkeleyside provided an overview of the 1,000 units in development at that time. Projections have grown since then.
See details of the specific building projects under way in Berkeley.
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