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SAN FRANCISCO-A Bay Area joint venture has acquired a vacant corner lot in Berkeley with visions of a $40-million residential-over-retail development. The .75-acre parcel at 1200 Ashby Ave. is slated for a four-story building containing 100 units of housing (20% affordable) atop 12,000 sf of street-level retail, and an above-ground parking structure.

The developer is a joint venture of San Francisco-based Rawson, Blum & Leon and Memar Properties Inc. of Oakland, CA, led by Ali Kashani, the founder and former executive director of Affordable Housing Assoc. Kava Massih Architects of Berkeley is the project designer. No contractor has been named.

RBL says it is currently in the process of obtaining the necessary entitlements for the Ashby Avenue work-force housing project. It expects to break ground in the fall 2008 and complete the project by 2010.

The development site sits on two major transit corridors close to Interstate 80. RBL acquisitions director Jeffrey Leon says the area is going through a major revitalization. One-half block from the site, Berkeley Bowl is slated to open a 90,000-sf grocery store within two years.

In a related move, RBL says it has hired Erik Halterman as development manager. Most recently a VP with the private equity firm Rockwood Capital, Halterman will be responsible for overseeing the development and repositioning of RBL’s multi-tenant retail centers and mixed-use projects located primarily in California, including the new project in Berkeley.

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