The Zoning Adjustments Board unanimously approved a Use Permit for a controversial four-storey, 40-unit senior residence on Sacramento Street at the site of the former Outback clothing store.
The bleary-eyed ZAB members cast their votes after closing the public hearing on the mixed-use project at 2:30 a.m. Friday at the end of an especially long meeting.
About 100 people attended the meeting to make comments for and against the project during the public hearing. But as the hours dragged on, the crowd thinned until there was about 12 speakers for each side.
Opponents complained the project at 2517 Sacramento St. is too dense for the mostly residential neighborhood. Proponents, many who are elderly, argued that affordable housing is in critical need, especially for seniors.
The project, which will be built by the nonprofit developer Affordable Housing Associates, will include 30 low- and very low-income units for seniors. The remaining 10 units will be leased to moderate income tenants.
AHA Executive Director Ali Kashani estimated the project will cost $8.8 million to complete. He added that if additional funding is secured this summer, the project is expected to break ground in early October.
Kashani said the mixed-use project will be 42,000 square feet including 3,600 square feet or commercial space. The project will also have 12 parking spaces.
“We are very excited the city leaders have put their faith in us to build this project,” said Kashani, who has sought approval for the project since June of 1999.
South Berkeley resident Howie Muir, who spoke in opposition to the project, said the unit density was inappropriate for the neighborhood.
“The approval of the project as proposed literally represents the imposition of downtown density in a lower density neighborhood,” Muir wrote in a statement on Friday. “The project is equal to 100 units per acre in an area the (General Plan) foresaw as “medium” density, of 40 units per acre.”