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96-unit senior home with ground-floor retail set to open in West Berkeley

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A four-story senior home is opening this spring at San Pablo Avenue and Addison Street. The building’s ground floor has room for Sticky Art Lab and a yet-to-be-filled corner restaurant space. Credit: Talia Soglin

A new 96-unit senior home offering independent living, assisted living and memory care units is set to open in the heart of a popular West Berkeley business district this April or May. 

Branded as Elegance Berkeley, the building is currently under construction at 2100 San Pablo Ave., the site of a former U-Haul rental location. It will be operated by Elegance Living, a for-profit senior living management company with locations in Dublin, Novato and throughout the U.S.

The building, open to residents 60 and over, will have a bar and bistro, a gym, a massage room, a theater and a community hall, plus a demonstration kitchen for use specifically by memory care residents. Pets are permitted, as long as residents are able to care for them.

The senior facility is located in the heart of the business district just south of University Avenue on San Pablo, near restaurants and coffee shops like Highwire Coffee Roasters, La Marcha Tapas Bar, Gaumenkitzel and Acme Bar & Company. 

The building’s ground floor includes space for retail.

Sticky Art Lab, a hands-on Berkeley arts-and-crafts play space now based on University Avenue, will occupy one of the retail spots along San Pablo. The Art Lab focuses on bringing adults and children together to make art with repurposed materials, according to its website. Elegance hopes to host intergenerational activities when it’s safe to do so. 

A 1,500-square-foot space in the building, at the corner of San Pablo and Addison Street, is being set up to serve as a restaurant or bistro.  

Thirty units of the building will be set aside for memory care residents; the other 66 are available for seniors in either independent or assisted living. 

A sign advertising Elegance Berkeley, which has opened up a leasing office at 2043 San Pablo Ave. Credit: Talia Soglin

“People want to stay in Berkeley,” said Elegance Berkeley executive director and Berkeley resident Andrew Badoud. “And that’s a theme we’re getting time and time again, you know, ‘I went to UC Berkeley,’ or ‘I was a professor at UC Berkeley,’ ‘I grew up in Berkeley.’” 

A 356-square-foot independent living studio with a kitchenette is priced starting about $7,045 per month, while one-bedrooms start at $9,700. Rent includes three meals a day, utilities, daily activities, weekly housekeeping and a laundry service. Leases are month-to-month. Assisted living care — such as help managing medications, or with daily tasks — comes with added costs that range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars extra per month; a shared studio in the memory care unit starts at $6,850. Elegance Living does not take Medi-Cal, Badoud said. 

The building will have about 30 ground-level parking spots for use by residents and guests with no charge planned at this time, according to Badoud. Spirit Living Group, Elegance’s developer (known at the time as Spirit Residential), originally proposed the project in 2016 as 91 rental units that could eventually be converted into condos. The initial proposal also included eight affordable apartments set at rates affordable to people making 50% of Berkeley’s median income. Significantly more parking was planned at the time; 65 underground spots for residents in addition to 21 spots for retail and live-work use.

Berkeley’s senior population is growing; in 2000, adults 65 and older made up 10% of the city’s population. That percentage is expected to hit 20% by 2030, according to a city report from 2019. And Amir Kia, a principal with Spirit, said existing senior housing options in Berkeley are “very limited.” (That’s especially true for low-income seniors; the city says wait lists for some affordable senior housing projects can last six to eight years.)  

Badoud said Elegance is currently working to staff up during the pandemic, and that he didn’t yet know what the staff-resident ratio would be at the facility. He said Elegance would base it on residents’ needs. All of the facility’s staff will be required to be vaccinated and boosted. 

Last Thursday, Erica Shinn Lee and her husband, Wilton, came to an open house for Elegance held at a leasing office across the street from the building.

Lee’s father, John, has been living in an assisted living facility in San Francisco for about a decade. He’s in pretty good shape for his age, Lee said, but his memory started to falter about a year ago. His current facility doesn’t offer memory care, and Lee said she liked the idea of his being able to move up a level of care if and when it’s needed — and that he’d be closer to her home in Berkeley. 

“Right now, having to cross the bridge is, as you know, not pleasant or unpredictable,” she said. “So it’s hard to get there right away if any issue comes up.”

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