Two Berkeley brown shingles for sale. Price: $1 each

The two homes that are for sale are on the site of the proposed Acheson Commons project in downtown Berkeley. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Two brown-shingle homes located in the heart of downtown Berkeley have been put up for sale. The asking price? Just $1.00 apiece.

The houses are on the site of the proposed Acheson Commons development that would impact the building that houses Ace Hardware on University Avenue. As part of the review process, developer Equity Residential is required to try to sell the properties before demolishing them.

The Moore/Acheson House and the Baldwin/Acheson House at 1922 and 1924 Walnut Street date from 1905. Neither house is landmarked or a designated historic resource, and they have been vacant for many years so are in a state of disrepair. A buyer would be required to pay for the removal of the two homes, one of which was originally a single family home, subsequently converted into a duplex. The larger of the two was designed multi-residential property when it was built. A buyer would also need to move the homes to a suitable site within Berkeley on a deadline of May 2013.

When the homes were assessed in December 2011, they were described as being of the original First Bay Tradition/Shingle Style design. “Alterations to the building appear minimal and include the installation of two replacement windows on the eastern end of the south façade. Despite the installation of these windows, the building retains high levels  of the original workmanship, and materials,” wrote LSA architectural historian Michael Hibma.

The Baldwin/Acheson House: for sale for $1.00

One hundred years ago Walnut Street was called Home Street and these homes were two of many residences in the center of Berkeley. Many of them burned down in the big fire of 1923, after which UC Berkeley snapped up much of the land (read the full story, “When Berkeley’s Home Street was  street of homes”  by Daniella Thompson on the BAHA website).

“The homes have to be moved before the groundbreaking on the new project which is expected to be next summer,” said Mark Rhoades at City Centric which is handling the sale. Rhoades describes the houses as “nice shells”. “They are structurally sound but will need all new plumbing and electricity as well as interiors.”

There have been more than a few cases of old homes being moved in Berkeley. In February last year Tom White and Dmitri Belser moved a house known as the Cheney Cottage from its original College Avenue site to 62nd Street where they are currently in the process of renovating it. They bought the home for $16.00 from UC Berkeley in 2009 after it was advertised on Craigslist and Ebay.

Read the city’s document about the Acheson Commons homes, referred to has Cultural Resources. Details about Acheson Commons is also available on the city’s website.

Acheson Commons: New, large-scale change for downtown [04.09.12]

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  • Old Berkeley

    Moving houses around used to be pretty common. We used to live in a place in south Berkley near Ashby that apparently was moved there after the 1906 earthquake. I can’t remember where was earlier. Houses used to have a fairly solid frame sitting on essentially rubble for a foundation. Thus it was not a problem to move the houses around.

  • guest

    I hope they are able to donate the salvage to ReStore in Oakland, Habitat for Humanity’s store.

  • TN

    I have friends who live in a house that was actually cobbled together from two different houses moved from other plots.

    On my own block in West Berkeley, there is one house that was moved there less than 20 years ago. According to the owner/builder/mover of that house, the biggest problem about moving these $1 houses is that there are almost no correctly zoned empty lots to move them to in Berkeley.

    I don’t if there are any empty lots in Berkeley that are big enough to hold even one of multi unit buildings being given away.

  • Guest

    I lived there from 2006 until 2010! I moved out when the buildings were sold to Equity Residential who required all residents to relocate. It will be sad if they are demolished, and a loss of affordable housing near campus.

  • Just Wondering

    Why is a buyer limited to a suitable site within Berkeley?  

  • BBnet3000

    Two corners of Telegraph and Haste have empty lots that I think are large enough.

    Yeah I know, its a much denser and more urban area but I doubt theres going to be new buildings going up there anytime soon.

  • David W Barts

    I doubt if they are. However, given the cost of moving a building, I doubt anyone who buys them would want to move them very far. Maybe to El Cerrito or north Oakland or possibly Emeryville if not Berkeley.

  • Stunned

    How could Equity Residential require all residents to vacate rent-controlled apartments unless you weren’t paying the rent?  Greed is not one of the just causes for eviction.

  • Jlfitz

    To build BART, a lot of houses were moved from the box bounded by Hearst, Sacto, Deleware and MLK Way, which was then excavated.  

  • Jana

    A night in an apartment in one of these houses was my introduction to Berkeley in the early 70s. It was a strange night but I fell in love with Berkeley and moved here shortly after.

  • rosefan

    We used to live in a house in the Elmwood that had been moved twice, once in the 20’s from College and Webster, then again 50 years later due to Alta Bates expanding. The front door has faced 3 different directions!

  • EarlyMorningCoffee

    If neither house is designated to be a landmark, why can’t they just demolish them? It seems silly to me to go through all those resources just to move them to another spot and so they can remain vacant and mess up a neighborhood. Look at Kenny Cottage on University. That thing is blight. So gross and disrespectful to working class neighbors.

  • I was also a resident at one of these houses until we had to move in 2010.  In order to get us to move, we reached a settlement with the landlord and each resident was given a lump sum payment and some minor moving fees were paid in return for us giving up any claim as tenants.   After we had vacated, the properties were then sold to the developer.  It was very tough to give up our home, but after weighing the pros and cons of trying to stay and fight the purchase or taking the settlement, we opted for the settlement.  

  • GeorgeDorn

    There’s a lot on Blake St., near the east side of Shattuck. Dunno who owns it, or if it would be big enough for one of these houses:

  • Guest

    It’s not just about size, but about zoning as well. There are large enough lots in the hills, but the zoning is wrong.

  • Guest

    How much did you get paid?

  • TJHillgardner

    Invariably, telephone, electric, and cable TV lines need to be lifted when a house is moved down a street. It gets complicated when you start involving multiple jurisdictions in a house move.

  • baklazhan

     If the city seriously wants to preserve these houses, it should give zoning variances as an incentive for moving them.

  • Neptunefc

    I have been watching those two buildings for almost 40 years. They have gone through periods of neglect. I was enheartened a few years ago when they were fixed up and made habitable. The only reason they can be described as in poor repair is that some corporation has paid off tenants so they can clear the site for a large, profitable project. In the 1960s developers were  going rampant and neighborhoods were destroyed by large, unattractive apartment complexes. Not much got built from the mid 1970s until the building boom started up again around 10 years ago. I hope these truly large buildings that have sprouted up stand the test of time.

  • I lived in the building on the corner in the upstairs apartment for about three years.  Lots of great memories in that falling down place.

  • Guest

    I spent many hours in one of those houses over the years, home to numerous friends.