Bancroft Center may be rebuilt as multiuse development

Lowney Architecture/Courtesy

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A stretch of property on Bancroft Way that includes the UC Berkeley Student Store, Copy Central and Julie’s Cafe was put on the market last week.

The 30,370-square-foot property, which spans from 2480 to 2580 Bancroft Way, is being sold for redevelopment. The property currently has long-term leased units, which include a one-story strip center and a two-story underground parking garage.

“It’s an underutilized site,” said Aileen Dolby, a broker for Colliers International, a real-estate company that is managing the sale of the site. “It’s rare to find something quite that large. It’s just calling for an update or change in use.”

Known as the Bancroft Center, the property may be rebuilt as a multiuse development that may include retail on the ground floor and commercial offices or housing on upper floors, according to Dolby.

Dolby also noted that due to the property’s proximity to campus, the chances of the property containing housing — particularly for students — are high.

The campus has been looking into building new student-housing units. Last month, a city committee passed a motion to continue plans for a five-story, 56-unit apartment complex on Durant Avenue.

“It’s in an area that has favorable zoning, which favors higher-density development,” said Erik Hanson, vice president at Colliers International. “The height limits allow for a taller structure to be built. Something with higher density could be built.”

Colliers International has worked with Oakland-based architecture firm Lowney Architecture to come up with a conceptual design for what new owners may consider pursuing.

The firm’s design plans include 21,000 square feet of retail space located on the ground floor, with four stories of residential units on top. According to Hanson, the plan also outlines 132 studio and one-bedroom units.

“(Lowney Architecture) is very experienced in Berkeley and Oakland,” Hanson said. “They know the zoning codes and what is more favorable for the city for development.”

Some businesses currently on the property have been notified of the sale but do not intend on moving. Murtaza Zaidi, the owner of Julie’s Cafe, said the cafe has no plans of moving even after the land is sold. The cafe has been located in the Bancroft Center for two years and occupies one rented unit of the center.

Peter Nilson, director of the UC Berkeley Student Store, echoed Zaidi’s sentiments.

“We’re keeping business as usual, and we’re staying there indefinitely,” Nilson said.

According to Hanson, the property has been owned by the same family since its original development. Of the two structures currently on the property, one was built in the 1930s and the other in the 1950s.

Offers for the property will begin to come in mid-November as prospective buyers evaluate the asset and the price, according to Dolby.

Contact Adrienne Shih at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @adrienneshih.