Berkeley orders demolition of 7-story building that burned for several days

The seven-story building at 2067 University Ave. that caught on fire Nov. 21 and burned for several days must come down.

Berkeley has ordered the owners of the structure to remove the top five floors, which are made of wood, by Dec. 31. The bottom two floors, known as the podium, are concrete and can remain for now.

The city’s Building and Safety division determined the structure is “unsafe, potentially endangering the safety of the public and adjacent properties, according to a summary prepared by Alex Roshal, a building and safety manager.

The building is not in imminent danger of collapsing, but “it is imperative that all fire damaged construction above the podium level be removed in a timely manner,” Roshal wrote in his report.

The building, which was almost completed, would have offered 50 housing units designed for students.

The fire broke out about 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 21, about a half-hour after workers had stopped for the day, according to Berkeley Assistant Fire Chief Keith May. The fire quickly went to six alarms, making it the largest fire in Berkeley in nine years. While the fire was largely brought under control within about a day, flareups continued for several days.

The building was so damaged that the fire department cannot send inspectors inside to determine where, why or how the fire started, said May. The fire department may never know, he said.

A limited liability company known as KL2067 University LLC, owns the property, according to records filed with the secretary of state. David Lau, one of the owners, told Berkeleyside that he could not comment on whether the structure will be rebuilt until an investigation into the fire has been completed.

About seven people living next door, at 2057 University Ave., had to flee their apartments. Berkeleyside has reached out to Raj Properties, which manages the building, to find out how seriously it may have been damaged. Raj Properties has said that it intends to move one tenant, Marsha Tolliver, into a new studio today.