Berkeley Ace Hardware still on the lookout for new space

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Berkeley Ace Hardware will need to relocate temporarily when construction begins on a new apartment complex. The store has not yet found a new space. Photo: Google

As downtown Berkeley prepares for the construction of the city’s largest ever apartment building, locally owned Berkeley Ace Hardware remains on the lookout for a place to relocate temporarily. Owners Bill and Virginia Carpenter continue to consider open spaces around Berkeley, but are hoping to remain downtown.

“The process is going slow,” Bill Carpenter said. He added that if community members know of open spaces where the store might be able to move in, they should let him know.

Although the owners looked into occupying the former Walgreen’s space, at 2190 Shattuck Ave. at Allston Way, Carpenter said it was unsuitable for a few reasons. In addition to a “chopped up” interior, there is no designated parking available, a feature that is valued at the current 2145 University Ave. location. He also said the rent in the Walgreen’s space is high.

“We’re a private company and we don’t have deep pockets,” he said. According to Carpenter, the business has until spring 2014 to find a location.

Once the new 205-unit Acheson Commons apartment complex is built, Ace should be able to move back into its original spot, where 22 parking spaces will be reserved for retail customers.

As the owners face the task of finding a temporary home, Carpenter said he is also worried about the potential impact of an increased minimum wage law — a proposal that has sparked debate throughout the city this summer. Carpenter said such an increase wouldn’t put the store out of business, but would affect its ability to hire students in the summer.

This article was updated after press time to correct an error regarding the number of parking spaces that will be reserved for Ace Hardware in the new apartment complex. The original project plans allotted 46 spaces to Ace and other retailers, but the current plan reserves only 22.

Camille Baptista is a summer intern at Berkeleyside. She grew up in Berkeley and now studies at Barnard in New York City, where she writes for the Columbia Daily Spectator.

City’s largest apartment building ever gets go-ahead (07.11.13)
Berkeley considers city-wide minimum wage hike (06.18.13)
Ace Hardware will not move to Andronico’s old space (09.18.12)
Berkeley Ace Hardware looks to move to Andronico’s site (08.28.12)

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  • Truth Sayer

    I dislike seeing them leave, as I no longer shop at the Ace on San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito. I purchased an auto shutoff valve that ceased to work after a week. when I took it back (with out a receipt) , the manager said that they have not sold the type of valve in years, even though the Ace label was on it and it was new. If he had said that my lack of a receipt was the reason for not accepting the return, I would not object to his decision. But he said that I did not purchase it there, he was not being honest. So I hope they find a new home soon. As they have a knowledgable staff.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    That is a true value, not an Ace. It is smallish. There is another true value on San Pablo just south of university. And an ace on MLK near CHOC.

    The ace downtown has deep inventory for its size and some knowledgeable staff. They should have grabbed the old Andronico’s. we do not need another thrift store!

  • serkes

    Could work out for everyone

    Ace only needs to be there for several years, then will leave to return to their old location.

    The Post Office could stay in place while Ace is there. Perhaps the PO could then move into part of the new Ace space, akin to the contract PO in the old pharmacy (now general store) in Kensington Village. Better yet – if the PO had a long-term lease from the new owners to stay exactly where they are. It would be a real PO rather than a Rincon Annex Potemkin PO.

    The buyers would have revenue and businesses to take care of the building for several years while they figure out their new design and remove the tree sitters.


  • asmena

    old black oak bookstore is now a black hole in a lively commercial area…eminent domain it for the good of the neighborhood…temp lease to Ace Hrdwr…then maybe a parking lot…

  • Mbfarrel

    I agree. Also there is still quite a bit of lower income housing in Berkeley, but we are certainly capable of attracting more affluent resident. Condemn those properties and build upscale housing. A boon for the City in significantly increased property taxes.
    And the Supreme Court has made actions like this perfectly legal.

  • Guest

    Seems like a great suggestion. There’s no dedicated parking, but I’ve never had trouble finding space in the shared lot right in front of the building, even on weekend mornings when it’s packed with brunch-goers. I recall that space being quite large, too — isn’t there a basement level, also, or am I misremembering? Black Oak Books said they were leaving b/c of a significant rent hike, but I just can’t figure out how it’s better for a landlord to leave the space empty for 3+ years than to make it realistic for a tenant to be there.

  • Guest

    Thank you for explaining this — I’ve also been confused by what seems like a ridiculous waste of space in a prime location. Good to hear there’s a reason for it.

  • Biker 94703

    You own a lot of property and use the losses + depreciation on the empty stuff to offset the income on the others, thus showing no profits and thus paying no corporate income taxes. Add prop 13 to keep your property tax base nice and low for eternity and bam, you’ve got it made.

  • guest

    Eastern Supply Hardware is the name–it’s great! They have everything you need plus good advice, and they even do some small repairs. I think University Hardware and the City of Berkeley got suckered by the Sam Zell owned Equity people who never intended to preserve the store when they got their permit.

  • Guest

    The downtown ACE is much more than a basic hardware store, as well. They have a surprising section of toys, craft supplies, kitchenware, and miscellany (e.g., air mattresses). I’m a renter with an attentive landlord — I don’t have a ton of need for most hardware supplies — but I check here for many items before turning to CVS, Safeway, Bed Bath & Beyond, or Target.

  • Guest

    Spats has been closed since what, 2009? And yet they haven’t even taken out the furniture. I recently googled it and saw some mixed info re: attempts to sell or possibly re-open. I never visited it when it was open, so I don’t have any nostalgia for the place, but I wish they’d find a way to move forward with the property — anything would be better than the current visibly decaying interior.

  • Jeffrey White

    Wow! It is amazing how much you can read into one sentence…And, of course, you are completely wrong. I own a house and often visit Orchard Supply Hardware across from the West Berkeley bowl. And, I usually walk as well…However, with respect to Ace staying in downtown Berkeley, the only feasible alternative for a store of any size is the old Walgreens store. The owners of Ace Hardware considered that alternative to be unsuitable…So, what options are left? The old Spats restaurant North of McDonalds? Maybe doing the Walgreens space anyway and leasing dedicated parking out front from the city?…You are the one who seems to know everything. Provide some brilliant solutions instead of railing at me.

  • iris fleur

    Let me suggest Berkeley Hardware take up temporary residence in the downtown Post Office building.

  • Guest

    What about taking the two empty storefronts on either side of Spun Sugar, on the north side of the 1600 block of University. I think the corner one has a little parking lot in the back.

  • Jan Elise Sells

    Having the good fortune to have lived in the Elmwood since 1979, I have seen some big changes in the past few years which were not ideal. Before, we were almost “independent” with our own drugstore, hardware store, small grocery/health food and produce store, and even a post office and movie theater! Then we lost the little grocery, the drugstore, and the hardware store to a gym, a chic cafe and a cool retail shop. We’re lucky a lovely little grocery store moved in on Ashby near college and I’m hoping we’ll keep the post office and the movie theater! When Andronico’s left, I hoped we’d get a hardware store. But no–another CVS! If ACE moved into the Elmwood, I think it would do very well! We have no hardware store closer than they are now–and we NEED one!!

  • guest

    I think you’d need a Hazmat team just to remove the furniture.

  • Mbfarrrel

    Big mistake not leasing the old Andronico’s.
    Many businesses don’t survive forced moves, but the Andronico’s site seemed to provide everthing Berkeley Hardware needs.
    Interesting that so many here think that government intervention is the answer.
    Like the banks and GM; Berkeley Hardware is too “beloved” to fail?

  • brycenesbittt

    There’s the perpetually boarded up old “Wicks Appliance” on Shattuck at Parker…