Kickstarting a Neighborhood in West Berkeley / by Angela Lin

Fourth & U Apartments (originally known as 700 University Avenue) is mixed-use project incorporating 173 homes above restaurant and retail space. Located right next to the Berkeley Amtrak Station, it is one of three adjacent projects planned to add much-needed housing to a formerly commercial zone.

Fourth & U Apartments (from Addison Street near Essex Way)

When we first set out documenting the “existing conditions” of the project site, the immediate blocks surrounding the site consisted of industrial buildings, large swaths of parking, a handful of restaurants, and a sake brewery. The site itself was bordered by train tracks and the University Ave overpass. I have to admit that this did not seem like a likely residential area at the time.

Fourth & U Apartments (from Fourth and Addison Street)

However a few blocks up Fourth Street was a robust retail area, with shops and cafes. In the convening years, those two other adjacent blocks have been developed into similar mixed-use projects and this now looks like a vibrant neighborhood within easy walking distance to amenities and the train station.