Does 1900 Fourth Street have a part of the West Berkeley Ohlone Shellmound buried beneath it?
In 1999 and 2000 the site was core tested with more than 40 borings. In 2014 a full archaeological dig was conducted under the Oversight of Dr. Allen Pastron of Archeo-Tec, a recognized specialist with sites that have the potential to contain culturally significant artifacts, and Andy Galvan, an Ohlone Indian and state recognized Most Likely Descendant. A total of 20 trenches were dug in areas (based on the borings) with the highest potential to find artifacts to depths likely to support cultural artifacts. The materials were exhaustively examined and cataloged. No culturally significant materials were found and the archaeological team members note that the potential for the site to contain intact culturally significant materials are very, very low to none at all.
How will this project contribute to an already successful retail environment?
The project is designed and proposed to address the existing small scale pedestrian oriented environment of Fourth Street as its prime tenet. The ground plane is varied and includes a large paseo to match the outdoor areas and walkways under construction across the street. The retail spaces have a variety of architectural forms and styles to fit in with and expand the wonderfully eclectic nature of the existing Fourth Street shops. We will focus our retail leasing strategy on retailers, restaurants and services that enhance the Fourth Street shopping experience for the Berkeley community and add to the already authentic and stimulating merchandising mix. We plan to bring more and different dining experiences to the Fourth Street district in order to create a vibrant day and evening environment.
Aren’t you just building something to maximize the project size and therefore the profit?
No. The Zoning Ordinance would allow a 4+ story structure to cover the entire site, including more than 200 apartments. Only 155 apartments are proposed. The site’s floor to area ratio is 2.0 where 3.0 is otherwise allowed, and the building massing varies in scale from one to five stories.
Housing is becoming too expensive in Berkeley for many people – how does this project address that?
It’s true. Berkeley’s lack of housing production over the last 40 years has created a housing crisis where prices are beyond reach. This project will provide needed housing supply AND it will provide 10% of its units at below market rate prices. At the 50% AMI rate rents for the BMR units will be approximately $822 per month!
How does this project compare to other projects built/approved/planned for the immediate area?
1900 Fourth serves as a link between the high density residential projects built and proposed south of University Avenue and the retail area north of the site along Fourth Street – where there are no apartments. Projects to the south have residential densities between @90 and @120 units per acre. The proposed project only proposes 155 units on a two acre site, or 70 units per acre.
Won’t this project just make parking in the neighborhood for residents and small businesses so much more difficult?
Unlike many of the projects recently approved in the area, 1900 Fourth Street is actually proposing to construct more parking than the Zoning Ordinance requires- and extra 143 parking spaces. The Zoning requires 222 parking spaces. The project will provide 372 total parking spaces, which allows one for each dwelling unit and 214 spaces for public use for those visiting the retail and restaurant uses and the rest of Fourth St.
How long will it be until construction starts and how long will the neighborhood be impacted?
The project is electing to prepare an Environmental Impact Report per CEQA requirements to thoroughly review any and all potential environmental issues – including the potential for cultural impacts. The entitlement and CEQA process will require one and a half to two years. Construction drawings and permitting will require another year, and construction will last a year and a half to two years.
What kind of retail will it be? Who will the tenants be? Are there any tenants interested so far?
We plan to have a mix of retail, restaurants and services that are complementary to Fourth Street. The retail design is of high quality and will have a variety of storefront treatments, awnings, lighting and signage. We have not started leasing the retail yet and likely won’t until we have a better idea of when the project would start construction and be completed. But we expect there will be strong demand given the success of Fourth Street and its strong, positive image in the minds of most retailers.
How many tenants will you have? Will you have chain stores or local businesses?
We have 30,000 s.f. of retail. We expect tenant spaces to range in size from 800-4,900 s.f., with the average around 1,500-3,000 s.f. so we will likely have 10-15 tenants. We plan to have a mix local businesses and stores that are representative of Fourth Street.