Published on Friday, August 12, 2022

Stage, art-deco façade, and marquee of The Cal will live on in a new 15-story apartment building.


A landmark Berkeley movie palace that featured silent films when it opened in 1914 will become the centerpiece of a 15-story mixed use project, according to plans filed with the city by a Rhode Island-based developer.

Gilbane, based in Providence, is planning to incorporate the art deco façade, marquee and a live theater stage from the famous California Theatre into its new building, which will include 214 multifamily units.

The shuttered film palace, located at 2113 Kittredge Street within walking distance of the UC Berkeley campus, will become part of a mixed-use facility that will provide student housing with 22 units reserved as affordable for tenants with incomes 30% to 50% of median income in the area.

Known to locals as The Cal, the theater was closed during the pandemic lockdown in March 2020 and never reopened. In January, a group of Berkeley residents petitioned the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission to bestow landmark status on The Cal to prevent its redevelopment.

Perhaps in a nod to the student housing crunch in Berkeley, the commission decided In May to limit the landmark designation to the building’s façade and marquee, clearing the way for the mixed-use project.

The Cal opened as the T&D Theater when it was built by real estate investor John Muldoon in 1914. It was remodeled and renamed in 1928 as the New Fox California Theater. The 13K SF theater was converted into a triplex before it was acquired by Landmark Theaters in 1994.

Gilbane, which hopes to get approvals in time for a groundbreaking next summer, is working with the California Theatre Consortium to revive the theater as a live performing arts venue.

Last month, a unique student apartment complex in Berkeley featuring a sculpted limestone façade that resembles the walls of a castle was purchased for $112.9M by a Goldman Sachs affiliate in an all-cash deal, according to Alameda County records.

Enclave Apartments, a 55-unit student housing complex located at 2503 Haste Street, was sold by a group headed by Irvine-based LBA Realty and Point Richmond-based West Builders, reported.

The seven-story building on the corner of Haste and Telegraph Avenue, is within walking distance of the UC-Berkeley main campus. The building has five ground-floor retail units.

The student apartment building is a local landmark due to the unique exterior of the lower floors, which are covered with stone that has been sculpted to resemble cliffs, rocks and crags as well as castle walls reflecting Tudor and Moorish designs.