The proposed project in Berkley would see houses torn down to build 57 multifamily units.

The proposed project in Berkley would see houses torn down to build 57 multifamily units.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Proposed multifamily development moves to council decision

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published November 8, 2023


BERKLEY — The Berkley Planning Commission last month gave a recommendation of approval for a multiple-family development across several properties in the city.

At its Oct. 24 meeting, the commission voted 4-2 to recommend a project proposed by Designhaus Architecture at 2465, 2475, 2468 and 2476 Columbia Road and 2475 Cambridge Road for a multifamily development.

The proposed project from Designhaus, on behalf of WJ Ventures, would see 57 multifamily units built on the site that encompasses the area on “the east side of Coolidge, south of Cambridge and north and south of Columbia.”

Wayne Wudyka, a developer with Designhaus, highlighted their investment in the area, such as its ownership of Huntington Cleaners & Shirt Laundry, Camelot Cleaners and their headquarters on Coolidge Highway near this proposed development.

“I think we share your vision in sustainable, thoughtful development in the area and, frankly, this development has a pretty big impact on the properties we own directly to the west, north and south of the project,” he said.

According to Wudyka, there is a demand for rental properties, especially in Berkley, as he stated that very little land used for housing in the city is occupied by multifamily developments.

Wudyka said the master plan that was adopted by Berkley in 2021 addressed “the need for alternative housing in the area to help support the city’s vision and future success.”

“The master plan vision really calls for future land use that creates a vibrant business community, preservation of the neighborhoods and fosters the city’s values,” he said. “Our property sits right in the middle of the gateway district ... and the gateway district calls for housing and calls for a more vibrant business community to support the businesses on that portion of Coolidge. We know that we have a very high quality design, we have a beautiful project.

“What’s interesting in Berkley, the city’s calling for more development, more housing and, of the 1,656 acres that Berkley comprises, there’s only 6.6 acres available for — free acres available — for development today,” he continued. “So with that in mind, it creates quite a conflict with the plan because what was required then is someone has to assemble a disproportionate piece of property together to create a big enough piece to create a development that’s not only buildable, (but) affordable, profitable and sustainable. We’ve done exactly that with our project.”

The project has had pushback from some residents in the area. Frank Buzolits presented a list of more than 565 signatures of residents who voiced their opposition to the development.

Buzolits previously had voiced his objection for the project at the commission meeting in September, where he stated his concerns about traffic with the number of businesses nearby and the possible new tenants. He also stated, as his main concern, that he didn’t feel he would want to raise a child with the number of vehicles coming in and out of the area.

“The light pollution, the noise pollution, the car pollution, I just don’t think it’s safe, not to mention the amount of outages that we’ve had on these streets over the past few months have been, I think, outrageous, and the amount of pressure it’s going to put on power supply or electrical grid. … That’s a main concern of mine,” he said.

Regarding concerns with parking, the developer was comfortable with the parking layout and number of spaces provided at the site for residents and guests, along with the additional parking available on Coolidge.

Some members of the Planning Commission expressed an interest in a contingency plan that would trigger and bring the issue back to the city if parking became an issue.

“I feel comfortable with the amount of parking that’s there,” Planning Chair Lisa Kempner said.

A contingency plan was not a part of the approval.

Permit parking also was brought up as an option, but Community Development Director Kristen Kapelanski said the city had just completed a parking study and determined that permit parking would not be something that Berkley was interested in at this time.

The project now will go before the City Council for approval at a future meeting. Though the agenda has not been announced, the next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20.