Berkeley council approves plans for housing around two BART stations

Plan calls for 7-story buildings, more than 2,000 units — some "affordable"

The North Berkeley BART station surrounded by a park-and-ride. (Google)
The North Berkeley BART station surrounded by a park-and-ride. (Google)

Buildings containing more than 2,000 apartments will rise up atop the park-and-ride lots surrounding two Bay Area Rapid Transit stations in Berkeley after the city council there approved a plan on Friday.

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting plans to build multiple residential buildings rising at least seven stories tall — and possibly up to 12 stories — around the North Berkeley and Ashby BART stations will be home to at least 2,400 new apartments, and as many as 3,600.

“We are going to build paradise on a parking lot,” said Councilmember Rigel Robinson according to a report by, “and I am so excited for that future.”

The vote to approve the plan was unanimous, and now the hunt is on for a developer to make it come to fruition, with the search beginning for the North Berkely station property next month, and the Ashby property within the year.

Construction around both stations could begin by 2025 with hopes of completion by 2030, making room for more than 5,400 residents.

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Thirty-five percent of those units are required to be available at below-market rates, according to the legislation.

Two months ago, the Berkeley Planning Commission recommended the City Council allow for up to 12-story buildings to be built at the sites after there was local opposition to the construction of buildings reaching 18 stories.

But during the public meeting that preceded the vote, some residents urged the council to limit the height of the new building to a 7-story maximum, claiming that taller buildings would adversely affect the character of the historically low-rise neighborhood.

Berkeley’s mayor cheered the 7-story plan.

“Seven stories is a huge win for housing in Berkeley,” Mayor Jesse Arreguín said before the vote. “I think we can do this in a way that’s thoughtful, that’s contextual and that reflects the city’s vision and priorities.”

[San Francisco Chronicle] — Vince DiMiceli