June 15, 2021
The Housing Action Coalition is pleased to endorse Anchor House, an exemplary mixed-use project in Berkeley. After a detailed presentation, the committee determined the project exceeds our high standards in addressing our region's affordability and displacement crisis.
The committee commends the project's excellent land use, as it will develop an underused site into a 14- story building with 244 furnished apartments and 772 single rooms. UC Berkeley provides the lowest amount of student housing among all UC campuses, thus worsening the city's already-severe housing shortage. Anchor House would provide nearly nine percent of the campus housing goals for the next 10 years without requiring any public funds. Additionally, all net operational revenue will fund 100 annual scholarships, including for first-generation college students and students from underrepresented communities.
The project site sits directly across from the campus on the corner of Oxford and University and is conveniently located just blocks away from campus bus stops, the downtown Berkeley BART station, and the retail and nightlife hubs on University, Shattuck, and Telegraph Avenues. Adding to its transit-friendly location, Anchor House will provide 250 bike spaces and 25 car spaces for retail employees and maintenance staff, with no public car parking. We would encourage the project team to explore the possibility of partnering with shared mobility providers to further incentivize alternate transit options. Anchor House will also include student-friendly amenities including 15,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, a fitness center, spacious student gathering areas, and numerous study areas.
Beyond the environmental benefits that come with transit-oriented development, Anchor House exemplifies innovation in sustainability. In addition to being LEED Gold certified, it will utilize 100% electric power, utilize water/energy efficient-fixtures, and solar power. At 14 stories tall, Anchor House will use brick, metal, and glass for the facade, and will also provide three living terraces on the second and 13th floors. All of which makes Anchor House an inspiring combination of sustainability and building design.
UC Berkeley has also engaged in robust community outreach. Anchor House has been presented to the Berkeley City Council, the Planning Commission and Landmarks Preservation Commission and received support for the proposed height, density and uses of the building. The project has also gone through an EIR process which was mostly conducted on-line and enjoyed a lot of public participation. We encourage the project team to study the feasibility of increasing the height of the building to 16 stories, which is in accordance with Berkeley's Downtown Area Plan. Between the annual scholarships, living spaces, ground floor retail, and student amenities, the committee is impressed by the diversity and totality of community benefits. Furthermore, we appreciate the project team's commitment to mitigating the loss of housing at 1921 Walnut.
Overall, we appreciate the project team's dedication to alleviating the impact on the nearby community. The team has put forth a well-designed, well-located project. The committee also encourages continued engagement with labor unions to ensure quality construction and local job opportunities. We are proud to endorse Anchor House as it strives to provide high density, high quality student housing and advance educational equity. Anchor House will provide both homes and opportunities for generations to come and will help alleviate the Bay Area's ongoing affordability crisis.
Executive Director, Housing Action Coalition