Property on Bancroft Way projected for redevelopment, housing, retail

Phillip Downey/Staff

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A Georgia real estate firm has purchased a property that houses nine retail stores along Bancroft Way, according to the company that brokered the sale.

According to a Wednesday press release from Colliers International, which negotiated the sale, Landmark Properties, a real estate firm specializing in student housing communities, acquired the 30,370-square-foot property at 2580 Bancroft Way for $18.5 million.

The site adjacent to campus currently contains an underground parking garage and businesses including Julie’s Cafe and Copy Central. According to the press release, the property is believed to be “the most valuable property ever sold for a future mixed-use development in the entire city of Berkeley.”

Brandon Geraldo, a member of the Colliers team that represented the property’s owner, said the property’s location is “irreplaceable.” He said that the project’s rendering and feasibility study, prepared by Ken Lowney, president and design director of Lowney Architecture, projected development of up to 132 apartment units and about 21,000 square feet of retail space.

Lowney said he hoped to design a project that can be financially viable, help to solve the housing shortage, and respect the heritage of the city.

“We’ve done a lot of work (in) Berkeley,” Lowney said. “We understand how the city works.”

The property also includes the site of the Fred Turner building, a Berkeley landmark designed by Julia Morgan, a Berkeley alumna and the architect of the Hearst Castle. The building will be preserved in future development.

Danilo Bosio, owner of Julie’s Cafe, said that they have extended the cafe’s lease from the building’s new owner. The cafe will close during construction, he said, but will “jump” back into operation again when the project is finished.

The new owner is working with the retail spaces’ current tenants, Geraldo said, and the project is at least three years from breaking ground.

Contact Tianyi Dong at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @dong_tianyi.