Site of Downtown Berkeley balcony collapse renamed, undergoing renovations

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Heather Feibleman/Staff

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The apartment complex at 2020 Kittredge St., where a balcony collapse killed six people and injured seven in June 2015, has changed its name from Library Gardens to K Street Flats and is undergoing renovations, as first reported by Berkeleyside.

Since the incident, Segue Construction Inc., the company in charge of building the faulty balcony in the complex, has been embroiled in controversies and lawsuits. Segue Construction has been sued by several families of the victims. The Contractors State License Board, or CSLB, alleged last year that contractors involved with the balcony’s construction potentially violated California law.

In December, the CSLB filed to revoke or suspend Segue Construction’s license, determining that the company departed from accepted trade standards and original plans while building the apartment.

“(The apartment complex) probably (has) a very small brand presence and image online,” said Ellen Evers, campus assistant professor in marketing. “In that case, it makes sense for them to rebrand themselves and choose a new name.”

Greystar, the complex’s property management firm, and Segue Construction could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Kiana Perez, tenant at K Street Flats and UC Berkeley senior, said the complex has recently been minorly refurbished in addition to its rebranding. According to Perez, the apartment, originally yellow, started being repainted blue and gray a few days ago, and construction inside the second- and third-floor hallways has been ongoing for a couple of weeks.

Evers said that because of the way people’s memories work — linking related concepts together when an idea is brought up — consumers may note both positive and negative things associated with a brand, but are more likely to remember the negative.

Evers said a company associated with a tragedy has to make a trade-off: It can either continue as it was, carrying negative connotations with the brand, or start over from scratch. Though Evers said she thinks short-term outrage over this decision from the community is possible, she does not think there will be long-term consequences.

“Honestly, I would not expect the downsides to last very long,” Evers said. “Leaving moral or ethics out of it, I would say this is a good business decision.”

Joseph Lucia, an attorney whose firm represents the family of balcony collapse victim Ashley Donohoe, said in an email that despite the rebranding, the tragedy will never be forgotten by those in the Bay Area or in the Republic of Ireland — the home country of the majority of the tragedy’s victims.

“There is nothing, including a change in the name of the Library Gardens apartment complex, that will erase those memories or rewrite history,” Lucia said in the email. “While the property owners may think they can sweep the history of this tragic event under the rug by simply changing the name attached to the building, it will not be so for those involved.”

Contact Fionce Siow at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @fioncesiow.