Large downtown Berkeley property changes hands

The Shattuck Cinemas property was sold to Los Angeles based Hill Street Realty. Photo: Yelp

A Los Angeles real estate group has snapped up the 92,000-square foot building that holds the Shattuck Cinemas, according to the San Francisco Business Times.

Hill Street Realty paid about $20 million, or $217 a square foot, for the property, formally known as Berkeley Center. In addition to the cinemas (which used to hold Hink’s Department Store) the property houses Habitot Children’s Museum, a Starbucks, and various offices. The Hotel Shattuck Plaza sits on the block, but was not included in the transaction.

“We bought everything but the hotel,” said Joseph Penner, the founder of Hill Street Realty, which has its offices in Santa Monica. “The hotel is still owned by the Patels. We are happy to be there.”

Penner said he would have more information about plans for the property in a few weeks.

The San Francisco Business Times quotes one of the brokers as saying the business climate in downtown is improving.

“The city of Berkeley has been successful in passing a new Downtown Area Plan, which paves the way for future development in and around downtown Berkeley,” Joshua Levy of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank told the Times.

Hill Street Realty was founded in 2001 and has acquired more than $100 million in investment properties. The privately held company, which buys, sells, and manages buildings, was started by Penner.

The seller was Marin County businessman Roy Nee, said Penner. Nee acquired the property in 2004.

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  • Berserkly

    looks like he paid 17.2 M for it back in 2004….maybe he needed the money for the holidays

  • Berkeley Resident

    Have been observing the downtown scene. I have occasion to be there about 4 days/week. The new and larger Walgreens is a huge draw, always busy and this changed the dynamic. The kids on the sidewalk have been staying within their bounds, with the Ambassadors, from time to time, gently reminding them. The change is palpable. Anxious to see what changes are in the works with this sale. I think The Downtown Berkeley Association offices are located in this building as well as Buy Local Berkeley.

  • Bill N

    Great, maybe a slight increase in property taxes? Could they see something some Berkeley folks can’t see about downtown? AND what’s up with the PO. I know there was a walk-through with some city and “other” folks a few weeks ago?

  • foobar

    I can see why there’s so much excitement. The rights to sell the Street Spirit in front of the theater go into the hundreds of cents per day.

  • Joshua A

    A slight increase in taxes and $300,000 in transfer tax.

  • Very refreshing to see comments that aren’t fearful, negative, or anticipatory of disaster. One might hope that this RE investor group knows their s&@t and perhaps figure that downtown economy is going to improve.

    As my own circumstances change, I view Berkeley for the next three years as my home and hope to commit to biking everywhere rather than driving…hmm–I just said that ‘out loud’ didn’t I? Commit to biking…hmmm…

  • Howie Mencken

    What’s going to clean up Shattuck? Ask the O’Jays;

  • Bill N

    Walking’s good too!

  • theDeer

    Here’s to hoping the Shattuck Cinema stays in with the new owners of the building!

  • hack

    The commentators who seem to get some personal satisfaction
    that the new owner will have to pay a “slight increase” in property taxes or
    that the city are going to collect a nice “$300,000” transfer tax are somewhat
    misguided. The problem is not that the city needs more money ,it is that it
    wastes the money it already has. I am sure these same commentators are also the
    same people that moan about the high rents shop owners have to pay for their
    leases and how that drives businesses out of town. The rents would be a lot lower if the Berkeley property taxes
    did not drive the cost of doing business up. Maybe next time someone buys into
    Berkeley be thankful they are taking a gamble on this city rather than doing a
    jig over the extra tax money the city has to waste. Berkeley residents are very
    good at spending other peoples money while holding onto their own.