Category Archives: Real estate

Hotel developer seeking $11M+ in Berkeley tax rebates

2129 Shattuck Ave.
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Update: Berkeley City Council on Tuesday night approved the occupancy tax rebate, with eight votes in favor and one abstention (Councilman Max Anderson). There was heated public comment that the rebate was an unnecessary giveaway to the developer, but city staff and councilmembers said their independent analysis had concluded the rebate was essential for the project. “In the end, the economic benefit to the city is significant,” said Councilman Jesse Arreguín. “We cannot lose this opportunity.”

Original story: Saying that it might not get construction financing unless its rate of return improves, the company slated to build a 16-story hotel at 2129 Shattuck Ave. is asking Berkeley to rebate as much as $11 million in fees.

Center Street Partners wants the city to provide “financial assistance” equivalent to the amount it will pay in permit and impact fees. To achieve this, the company is asking that Berkeley rebate half of the transient occupancy taxes (TOT) the hotel pays the city for up to eight years. With inflation, that could amount to around $13.1 million, according to city staff.

City staff, citing Berkeley’s desire for a hotel with its economic benefits, is suggesting to the City Council that it accept this financing deal. Even if Berkeley agrees to rebate about $1.5 million in TOT taxes each year, the hotel will still be a financial boon, according to Michael Caplan, the manager of the economic development program. The City Council will take up the proposal at tonight’s meeting. … Continue reading »

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Real estate

Berkeley council votes to crack down on short-term rentals of multiple units by same owner

There are hundreds of rooms and units available to rent on Airbnb even though short-term rentals are currently illegal in Berkeley. Image: Airbnb
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Prompted by concern that too many units are being taken off Berkeley’s long-term housing market for short-term uses such as Airbnb, the City Council voted Thursday to penalize landlords who rent out multiple properties for less than two weeks.

In a unanimous vote, following a motion by Councilman Kriss Worthington, officials asked staff to initiate an enforcement process after the city gets at least three verified complaints about property owners, individuals or companies that rent out multiple units on a short-term basis. It’s the first time council has given direction to staff to enforce the rules about short-term rentals that are already on the books, according to the city attorney.

Short-term rentals — those less than 14 consecutive days — have always been illegal in Berkeley. Council has been working since 2014 to come up with rules to regulate them as the practice has become increasingly popular through sites such as Airbnb, VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) and HomeAway. … Continue reading »

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Record price set for older Berkeley apartment building

This 1968 building at 2737 Fulton St. sold for $3.85M, making each unit worth $458.000, a record in Berkeley for structures built before 2000, according to real estate insiders. Photo: Google Streets
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An eight-unit apartment building at 2537 Fulton St. recently sold for $3.825 million, making the individual price for each apartment – $478,125 – the highest in Berkeley for buildings constructed before 2000, according to those involved with the deal.

The Kuwait Real Estate Company, also known as AQARAT, sold the building in late May to an undisclosed local buyer who paid all cash, Guy Nesdale, a partner in the private equity firm, Empire Square Group, which manages some of AQARAT’s assets, told  AQARAT is one of Kuwait’s largest real-estate companies, and the first to have shares traded on the stock exchange, according to its website.

“The price escalation in the local Berkeley market made this an opportune time to divest of property,” Fahad Al-Shamlan, vice president for investments and acquisitions at AQARAT, said in a press release. The release also said the sale was record-setting. … Continue reading »

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Kapor abandons plans to build North Berkeley mansion

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After waging a six-year legal battle over the right to build a mansion and 10-car garage in the Berkeley hills, Lotus Development Corp. founder Mitch Kapor and his wife Freada Kapor-Klein have put their property on the market.

The lot at 2707 Rose St. went up for sale June 27 and was listed at $1.5 million, according to the real estate website Redfin.

The Kapors were not available to comment by publication time.

The legal battle began when the Berkeley Hillside Preservation Group, sued the city over the need to conduct an environmental impact report (EIR) of the Kapors’ building plans on the Rose Street property.

In general, single-family homes are exempt from conducting state-mandated impact reports but the Hillside Preservation Group argued that the proposed structure was exceptionally large and in an area that was susceptible to landslides. In order to build the mansion, the road would also have to be widened. Together, the group argued, the plans would generate an impact to the environment, and thus required a review. … Continue reading »

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Landmark Claremont Court house on market for $5.45M

2840 Claremont Boulevard built in 1910, is on the market for $5.45M Photo: BHG
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One of the first houses built in Claremont Court is on the market for $5.45 million, marking it as one of the most expensive residences ever for sale in Berkeley.

The light-filled landmark home at 2840 Claremont Blvd. has eight bedrooms, five bathrooms, a large entryway, a formal dining room, a grand living room and a suite of servants’ rooms upstairs. Paul O. Teitzen, the president of the Bank of Santa Maria in southern California, hired the architectural firm of Hodges and Mitchell to construct the home, said Allen Hibbard,the listing agent for the home. He is with Better Homes and Garden Real Estate. The Teitzen family moved in in 1910, just four years after ground was broken for the Claremont Hotel (it opened in 1915) and three years after Duncan McDuffie and Joseph J. Mason started to subdivide the area bounded by Derby Street, Belrose Avenue, Claremont Boulevard, Claremont Avenue, the Claremont Hotel, Russell Street and Oak Knoll Terrace. It would become known as Claremont Court and was noted for the graceful gates that set off the subdivision. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council denies landmark status for The Village

The Village. Photo: Emily Dugdale
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The Berkeley City Council on Tuesday, June 14, rejected an appeal to landmark The Village, the eccentric collection of restaurants and small businesses at 2556 Telegraph Ave. A seven-story mixed-use project is planned for the site. In January, the Landmarks Preservation Commission had denied landmark designation to the two-story The Village, which dated in its current form to 1972.

Public comment on the appeal at the council meeting elicited extreme reactions on both sides.

“It’s a bit of a dump,” said John Caner, CEO, Downtown Berkeley Association, speaking in a personal capacity.

“This is a site and a place of high significance,” said John Mink, one of the appellants on the appeal. “This is a very important cultural, architectural, historic and educational landmark in Berkeley.”  … Continue reading »

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New 16-story downtown Berkeley hotel gets go-ahead

The proposed downtown hotel at Center and Shattuck. Image: JRDV Urban International
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Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday night approved plans for a 16-story, 334-room hotel, with conference center, to be built on the Bank of America site at 2129 Shattuck Ave. (at Center Street).

The vote was unanimous and ZAB commissioners universally praised the project developer, Pyramid Hotel Group, for its responsiveness throughout the approval process, and for taking into account the needs of the community and stakeholders. Commissioner Steven Donaldson said Pyramid had been a “model for how developers can work with the city.”

See city documents on the hotel plans

Read more details on the hotel project on Berkeleyside.

The proposal considered by ZAB on Thursday was essentially the same as the one the board saw the last time it was in front of them when it certified its Environment Impact Report, said city principal planner Greg Powell. Changes made to the plans in recent months included dropping the idea of condos, aesthetic revisions to the architecture including “quieting it down,” and enhancing the project’s community benefits, the principal one of which concerns the project’s labor agreements. … Continue reading »

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Plans for Berkeley’s Adeline Corridor begin to take shape

City planners have drawn up possible changes to problematic intersections in South Berkeley, including the Ashby and Adeline intersection.  Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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Realigned intersections, relocated roadways, new bicycle lanes, and affordable housing on public lots are among preliminary ideas city planners have floated for the Adeline Corridor planning project.

At a meeting Saturday, May 21, at the South Berkeley Senior Center, planning staff and consultants from MIG, the firm working on the project, revealed initial ideas they have developed based on public input collected over the past year. A $750,000 award from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission funds the process, which is slated to culminate in winter or spring 2017 with a long-term plan for the corridor.

The project area covers about 100 acres stretching south from Dwight Way to the Oakland border.

Read more about the Adeline Corridor planning on Berkeleyside.

Saturday’s meeting, which followed an extensive community feedback process, focused on potential uses of publicly owned land and transportation routes. These initial ideas are not necessarily feasible, said Mukul Malhotra, principal at MIG.

“What we’re doing is thinking of our bigger dreams,” he said. “At the end of the day we have to create an implementable plan.” … Continue reading »

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Major office/R&D campus proposed near Aquatic Park

The Jones family, which owns this 9-acre parcel fronting Aquatic Park, is asking Berkeley for a Master Use Permit to develop a life science "campus" of four to six buildings. Photo: Joe DeCredico
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The family that has owned a two-block-long swath of land along Aquatic Park since 1979 is asking the city of Berkeley for a Master Use Permit to construct “a premier life science research and development campus” along the waterfront.

Jason Jones, who owns the land with his father, Charles, wants to transform the 8.67-acre parcel, which is bordered by Bolivar Drive to the west, Addison Street to the north, Union Pacific Railroad Tracks (aka Third Street) to the east, and Bancroft to the south, into a cluster of four to six buildings that will hold light industrial manufacturing, research and development space, offices and stores, according to documents submitted to the city.

There will be a community meeting about the project, known as Aquatic Park Campus, on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Frances Albrier Community Center Auditorium, 200 Park St. The official addresses for the proposed MUP are 600 Addison St., 91 Bolivar Dr., and 2222 Third St.

The complex would cover 475,000 square feet of land and would include “an urban-style mini-plaza” at the corner of Addison Street and Bolivar Drive to provide “a gateway experience to the project,” according to documents. There would be a 300,000 square foot parking structure, a 2,500-square-foot manufacturing building, (a mitigation for a plant that was torn down about three years ago so Jones could do an environmental clean-up of the land). As a community benefit, the project would also widen Bolivar Street and add paths, sidewalks, landscaping, bike paths, and parking, according to Joe DeCredico, the land use planning consultant for the project. … Continue reading »

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170 new units approved in West Berkeley

The proposed view at San Pablo Avenue and Jones Street. Image: Pyatok Architects
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A sprawling mixed-use complex on San Pablo Avenue won approval Thursday night from Berkeley’s zoning board.

Neighbors turned up in droves for the May 12 Zoning Adjustments Board meeting. Most of those who spoke during public comment lobbied for what they said was a more efficient alternative created by three community members to reduce the impacts. Supporters of the project, some of whom said they live nearby, were also in attendance. They said the time is now for more housing, and that the alternative plan was not realistic.

See more real estate news on Berkeleyside.

The board did not vote on the project until 11 p.m., though 1500 San Pablo Ave. was the only item on the action calendar. Seven board members voted in favor while two — Igor Tregub and Shoshana O’Keefe — abstained.

Tregub had tried to win support for an alternate motion that directed the applicant, Amir Massih of 4Terra, to work with neighbors and come back later with a project that was more compatible with its surroundings. He could not get a majority vote in favor, however. O’Keefe said she liked a lot about the project but had too many questions about traffic impacts to vote Thursday night.  … Continue reading »

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Second West Berkeley human remains discovery prompts call to re-examine shellmound boundaries

Andrew Galvan, a Cocheyno Ohlone, points to a mural on Fourth street of pre-contact natives in ceremonial dress for dances. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Workers building new stores and a beer garden at 1919 Fourth St. on April 27 found a second set of ancient human remains, leading the Peace and Justice Commission to call for a stop on construction. The discovery followed closely on the unearthing of what appeared to be “pre-contact” Indian remains in the same area on March 29 while working on the redevelopment of Spenger’s Fish Grotto and adjoining parcels.

The discovery of the remains across the street from the boundary of the West Berkeley Shellmound has also prompted Councilwoman Linda Maio to suggest that Berkeley take another look at the shellmound boundaries, which were established in 2000. Maio intends to ask the city manager to take up the matter. … Continue reading »

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The Jess murals at former Pauline Kael house are saved

A mural by Jess Collins inside the 2419 Oregon st. house Photo: Jess Collins Trust
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Murals painted by the artist Jess in film critic Pauline Kael’s former home on Oregon Street in Berkeley have been saved.

A 29-year-old tech worker who comes from a family of artists purchased the 1905 brown-shingled home for $1.45 million and signed a covenant promising not to paint over or disturb the murals for 10 years.

“I got very inspired by the artwork,” said Reuben Gibson at a reception at the house on May 6. “It speaks to me. I love mysticism, the romantic myth. I love Lord of the Rings. I like the artwork. It’s one of the reasons I bought the house.” … Continue reading »

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Real estate

91 units over underground parking proposed on San Pablo

2100 San Pablo Ave. could one day look like this. Image: RGArchitecture
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Spirit Residential is planning to build 91 new apartments over an underground parking garage on San Pablo Avenue just south of Addison Street in West Berkeley.

A U-Haul rental outlet used to operate there but is no longer in business, according to a U-Haul rep reached by phone.

“The project will include demolition of two small existing buildings previously used as a U-Haul truck rental facility, which was forced to close after extensive City of Berkeley enforcement actions due to neighborhood impacts,” according to project materials.

See more real estate news on Berkeleyside.

The 5-story 2100 San Pablo Ave. project — just south of the Mi Tierra Foods market on Addison — was submitted to the city Feb. 16 by Mark Rhoades, who is representing San Anselmo-based Spirit Residential.

Four ground-floor live-work units and three retail and café spaces, which could be combined into one, will have four stories of apartments overhead. Rhoades said the project is unique for how far it is slated to be set back from nearby neighbors, from 40 to 60 feet away in most areas. The setback is often an area of contention during the permitting process. … Continue reading »

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