Chinese investor behind San Francisco office tower bets on Berkeley housing

Danville-based Blake Griggs Properties teamed up with a big Chinese investor to buy an 84-unit apartment development site in Berkeley.

The investor is Gemdale Properties and Investment, an affiliate of Gemdale Corp., one of the largest real estate companies in China.

The Blake will feature 84 apartments near downtown Berkeley.

The Berkeley site, located at 2035 Blake St., is slated for a five-story building with 1,350 feet of ground floor retail.

Gemdale was drawn in by the project’s location, near the busy intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Dwight Way, which is walking distance to the University of California, Berkeley and downtown Berkeley.

“The large student population, increasing enrollment and lack of on-campus housing provides a built-in demand generator,” said Jason Zhu, chairman of Gemdale USA, in a statement.

The investor, founded in 1988, entered the United States in 2015 with projects in Los Angeles.

The Blake Street project is Gemdale’s first residential development in the Bay Area following investments in two San Francisco office buildings: the 56,000-square-foot 500 Pine St. and the 372,000-square-foot 350 Bush St., both of which are under construction, and Midpoint, a 415,000-square-foot research and development campus in San Jose. All three of those projects are partnerships with Lincoln Property Co.

The Berkeley development, designed by Devi Dutta Architecture, was originally entitled last year by Berkeley developer Mark Rhoades Planning Group and dubbed, “Roost @ Blake.”

The project is the first Berkeley development for Blake Griggs, a prolific East Bay developer working on an $800 million portfolio including a transit village at the Walnut Creek BART Station.

The developers expect to break ground on the Berkeley project this fall. They declined to disclose the total cost and contractor for the project.