Laconia adds 58 apartments to proposed Berkeley complex

Two buildings with 219 units would stand behind restored Victorian homes

Laconia CEO Paul Menzies and 2015 Blake Street (Lowney Architecture)
Laconia CEO Paul Menzies and 2015 Blake Street (Lowney Architecture)

Laconia Development wants to add dozens of apartments to a 161-unit project approved last year in Berkeley.

The Walnut Creek-based developer, acting through Rhoades Planning Group of Berkeley, filed updated plans to build 219 apartments at 2015 Blake Street, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

Laconia won approval for the 161-unit project in two buildings at the end of last year, Laconia CEO Paul Menzies said.

Plans now call for a three-story and eight-story building with studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, to share the lot with two 19th-Century Victorian houses the company is working to restore, Menzies told the Business Times. Laconia proposed redeveloping the site in 2018.

The white, salmon and chocolate-brown buildings, designed by Oakland-based Lowney Architecture, would rise up behind the historic homes.

The 58 additional apartments, which marks a 36 percent increase from the prior proposal, is made possible by a state density bonus law that allows developers to trade affordable units for added density. The number of affordable units on Blake Street was not disclosed.

Laconia believes the process of securing the updated approvals should be simpler than starting from scratch, according to Menzie. He said the firm would like to break ground next year.

Recent changes to the state density bonus law allow developers to build progressively denser than local zoning allows, which has led to changes for several plans in Berkeley, according to the newspaper.

Chicago-based developer Core Spaces submitted a 25-story, 551-unit project in June after first proposing a 17-story version with 268 fewer units.

New Jersey-based PGIM Real Estate, the asset management arm of Prudential Financial, did the same with its now 25-story, 326-unit project at 2190 Shattuck Avenue, which rivals Core Spaces’ project for Berkeley’s tallest building.

Laconia suffered an East Bay development setback this month when the City of Richmond rejected its longtime plans to build 154 homes on the city’s waterfront.

— Dana Bartholomew

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