UC Press to sell Downtown Berkeley space, move to Oakland

Anthony Bongco/Staff
UC Press, whose current location is at 2120 Berkeley Way, above, is set to move to an office in Oakland. One-fourth of the nonprofit publishing house’s output is associated with the University of California.

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After calling its building in Downtown Berkeley home for nearly 30 years, University of California Press is selling its space at Berkeley Way and moving its publishing operations to Downtown Oakland.

UC Press, the University of California’s nonprofit publishing house, entered a lease for about 25,000 square feet on the fourth and part of the fifth floor inside Lake Merritt Tower at 155 Grand Ave. in Oakland.

The publisher, founded in 1893, annually prints roughly 200 new books and 40 multi-issue journals — one-fourth of which are associated with the university — in a variety of academic subject areas, according to the UC Press website. It is one of the six largest university presses in the United States and the only one located in the West and associated with a public university.

UC Press’ current building, located just a couple of blocks from the UC Berkeley campus and Downtown Berkeley BART, is listed for sale by Gordon Commercial Real Estate Services. The three-story mixed-use office building has about 24,237 square feet of available space that was renovated in 1983. The building is being sold through a sealed bid process starting at $4.75 million, with bids due March 4.

“The location is really good for office space for any businesses coming to Downtown Berkeley, especially since it is less expensive by square-foot basis than most of San Francisco,” said Ito Ripsteen, a broker with Gordon Commercial. “(The site) could be next startup that we see from Berkeley incubator spaces like SkyDeck.”

UC Press will develop more digital products in the new space’s technology center, UC Press Publicity Director Alexandra Dahne told the San Jose Mercury News.

Steven Banker, a broker with LCB Associates, represented UC Press during its 19-month-long search for a larger location. Although the publisher intended to buy a building in Oakland, a deal that went into contract fell through in late 2012, Banker said.

Ripsteen cited a 205-unit apartment project proposal on the same city block as the current UC Press building in Downtown Berkeley as indicative of the district’s recent “development boom.”

“We are seeing interest from developers all over the country — not just in the Bay Area,” Ripsteen said. “Berkeley is more than just a hot campus town.”

The plan is for UC Press to move in during the first quarter of 2014 pending renovations to the new space, said Kim Stevens, a leasing agent for Lake Merritt Tower.

Contact Jeff Landa at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JeffLanda.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the University of California Press’ current building in Downtown Berkeley is being sold through a concealed-bid process. In fact, it is being sold through a sealed bid process with a public bid opening.