UC Selects Belmont Village for Senior Housing Project

The mixed-use senior housing and retail project, and Whole Foods store, planned for University Village came before a city commission this week. Officials voted to recommend approval of the environmental review and zoning changes by the City Council.

[Editor's Note: The report below is based on live-streaming video, watched online, of Tuesday's Planning & Zoning meeting.]

More details emerged this week about plans for the senior housing component of the planned for .

UC developers announced the selection of Belmont Village to run the senior housing component of its plan.

University developer Kevin Hufferd said Belmont Village has chosen HKIT, an Oakland-based architecture firm, to build the development.

The agreement isn't final, but Hufferd said the university and Belmont Village have signed a letter of intent, and are discussing the ground lease. 

, before the , was the first announcement of these key players, who may one day make the university's vision to transform the east side of the Village a reality.

[Want updates when we write about development plans for University Village? Click the green "Keep me posted!" button below the story.]

The University of California's project at the Village involves 6.3 acres just west of San Pablo Avenue, on lots immediately north and south of Monroe Street. 

The university would like to build a Whole Foods, up to 55,000 square feet, on the north side of the street, and a mixed-use development on the south side. This second site would include about 30,000 square feet of retail space and 175 senior housing units, according to Tuesday's staff report.

Because the housing would be run by a for-profit developer, Hufferd said Tuesday, Albany would collect "full revenue benefits" from the project. 

(He said, overall, the project would bring in $460,000 to the general fund, with a net fiscal impact of $200,000. It would also include about 320 full-time jobs. The original timeline set an opening date by October 2013, but Hufferd said the schedule may have slipped.)


Belmont Village Chief Investment Officer Margaret Scott described her company's offerings to commissioners after Hufferd's presentation. 

The company has senior living properties in 20 U.S. communities, including 10 in California. (See photographs from its San Jose property here.)

It's a company that will be there for the long haul, she said. 

"We stay in the ownership chain for the life of Belmont Village," said Scott. 

The units will offer month-by-month rentals, without any sort of "large entrance fee up front," she said.

The company would offer three levels of care: independent, assisted living and Alzheimer's. Licensed nurses would be on the site at all times.

Scott said the property would have a wellness program, housekeeping, three meals a day, a salon and beauty parlor, and programming, including a lecture-seminar series. 

Belmont Village also offers a "Circle of Friends" program to help elders with cognitive impairment stay connected to the community, she said. 

There would be a secured area for "wander-risk" individuals as well.

Scott said seniors could also expect a dining room, bistro, numerous outdoor areas and a fitness center, along with various floor plan options for housing.

(Scott did not provide any information about possible rental costs for Belmont Village units.)

A "Town Hall" space for senior programming also will be available for community groups. 

Earlier in the evening, Hufferd said the hall would be next to an expanded open space near ; the current plans propose 31,000 square feet of open space near the creek. 

(Though this is an increase from the last plan, one speaker during the public comment section said the developer was still coming up short in terms of required open space for the overall project.)


Speakers shared comments at length during the 4 1/2 hour meeting Tuesday. In the end, commissioners recommended approval by the of the project's environmental review document and zoning changes that allow more commercial development than is currently allowed on the site.

The zoning change also includes an "overlay" that requires housing on the site, in part to meet a state mandate related to increasing density, said city Community Development Director Jeff Bond. 

Commissioners did not vote on a "Planned Unit Development" designation for the site, which has been the most controversial and complex aspect of the project in recent months. A "PUD" would allow for more flexibility in terms of open space and height requirements, but also necessitates substantial public amenities. 

Commissioners will discuss the PUD at their Sept. 27 meeting.

Commissioner David Arkin recused himself from the discussion because he lives and works near the project site. 

A video of Tuesday's Planning & Zoning Commission meeting will be posted on the city website here.

Want updates when we write about development plans for University Village? Click the green "Keep me posted!" button below the story.

Everybody makes mistakes ... ! If there's something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at emilier@patch.com. 

Alan Riffer September 15, 2011 at 09:08 PM
Just to be picky, the property does not currently yield property taxes. Developed by UC in partnership with a non-profit, still no property taxes. Developed with a for-profit partner, property taxes would be collected. Development is an opportunity to gain taxes, not to lose them.
Alan Riffer September 15, 2011 at 09:18 PM
I don't recall that from the July 18 meeting. I remember that some people wanted it to be much smaller, or not there at all and that more people are happy that it wouldn't be smaller. Absent some basis for your opinions on the EIR, they are opinions rather than facts. The overlay which P&Z approved addresses the concern about what is planned being what we get.
John Doh! September 15, 2011 at 10:33 PM
Re: Mr. Riffer's comment: The EIR is an opinion as well. One major flaw is that its premise assumes that the Albany WF's impact on traffic would be equivilant to the Berkeley WF's. The assumption being that WF locations in Berkeley and Oakland would keep Albany from being a "regional" destination store. Where I disagree is that Albany is much closer to the freeway, there is not another WF north of here, and it will be a much nicer store (even at 35,00sf.) I believe that even the UC rep has admitted that the parking is going to be a challenge (more idling engines waiting for spaces.) Between this and possibly LBNL, there will definitely be much more pollution making its way into the bay (that is a fact.) Cars leak oil and other fluids. I'm always skeptical of govt. decisions to raise revenue by relaxing regulations. In the end, we'll see if the results are change that residents hope for. BTW, I enjoy driving all the way to Oakland WF for the prepared foods and will shop at the new store. I just think 35,000 sf is more appropriate for Albany.
Emilie Raguso September 15, 2011 at 10:36 PM
I just added both of the PDF presentations from the other night (courtesy of Mr. Hufferd at UC). That was a marathon meeting if I've ever seen one...
John Doh! September 16, 2011 at 12:03 AM
Any sense of what the cost is for an apartment at Belmont? Is the city planning to require a % of units be affordable housing with income/ wealth requirements?


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