BRIDGE JV to Bring $120M Affordable Project to California

The development is being built on the site of a city-owned parking lot in downtown Berkeley, Calif.
Rendering of Berkeley Way and Hope Center. Image courtesy of Berkeley Food & Housing Project and BRIDGE Housing

After more than a decade in the planning stages, a groundbreaking was held in Berkeley, Calif., to mark the beginning of construction of the 89-unit Berkeley Way Apartments and Hope Center, two side-by-side developments that will provide affordable homes, homeless shelter beds and support services when it is completed in May 2022.

The innovative project is being developed by a partnership between Berkeley Food & Housing Project, a local agency that provides care to the homeless, special needs and extremely low-income populations, and BRIDGE Housing, a leading nonprofit developer and owner of affordable housing for working families and seniors. The $120 million development will be erected on the site of a city-owned parking lot at 2012 Berkeley Way in downtown Berkeley located about two blocks from the Berkeley BART train station. It will be the largest permanent supportive housing for the homeless in the city and the largest low-income and affordable housing project in the history of Berkeley.

The BRIDGE portion of the development will contain 89 units of affordable housing, that will be available to the public through a lottery, and services for low- and very low-income families with between 50 percent and 60 percent Area Median Income (AMI). The studio, one- and two-bedroom units will be owned and managed by San Francisco-based BRIDGE Housing. The Hope Center, to be operated by BFHP, will have 53 permanent supportive housing apartments, a 32-bed homeless shelter, 12 transitional beds for homeless veterans, a community kitchen and services for mental health, substance abuse, job training and social activities.

While they are two distinct entities, the development was designed by Bay Area architects Leddy Maytum Stacey to be one unified building. The general contractor is Nibbi Brothers General Contractors.

Financial partners for both include: the City of Berkeley, Berkeley Housing Authority, Alameda County, California Department of Housing and Community Development, National Equity Fund, Merritt Community Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, California Debt Limit Allocation Committee and donations from the Berkeley community. Additional funding for the Hope Center is being provided by City Community Development/LISC-NEF’s Bring Them Home initiative. Other funding partners are PGIM, Freddie Mac and the Federal Loan Bank of San Francisco.

Cynthia Parker, president & CEO of BRIDGE Housing, said in a prepared statement the community will benefit from sustainable infrastructure that will include pedestrian and cycle improvements and a new zero-emissions bus. The project is also expected to create hundreds of construction jobs and Brad Wiblin, executive vice president of BRIDGE Housing, called it “an economic development engine” for the community when speaking at the event.

The long-awaited construction project is “a bright spot in a dark time,” Council Member Kate Harrison said during a brief virtual ceremony that was streamed on Facebook Live due to COVID-19 concerns. She also called it a “complete win-win” for all involved.

BRIDGE Developments

Since it was founded in 1983, BRIDGE has participated in the development of more than 18,000  homes in California, Oregon and Washington with total development costs of more than $3 billion.

In late June, BRIDGE opened Cedar Grove at Jordan Downs, a 115-unit affordable housing property in Los Angeles. It represents the first phase of the $1 billion revitalization of Jordan Downs, a 1950s-era public housing community with about 700 units in the Watts section of the city. Situated on 3 acres near Freedom Plaza, the development consists of 12 buildings with a mix of one-bedroom to five-bedroom floorplans.

In May, 1101 Connecticut, a 72-unit affordable housing building developed by BRIDGE in San Francisco, earned the LEED Platinum certification. Located in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of the city, the community is 2.5 miles southeast of a BRIDGE affordable development which topped out in January.