Site of Harold Way project put up for sale

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The site of the Residences at Berkeley Plaza, located at 2211 Harold Way, recently went up for sale.

The 18-story mixed-use structure was listed as entitled in an advertisement run by the project’s brokers, Salem Partners and Arbor Realty Capital Advisors, meaning that the buyer will also obtain the rights to build on the property. The sale offer comes after Berkeley City Council approved the contentious project in 2015. A lawsuit against the project was also dismissed in October 2016.

The property’s development is set to include 302 apartments units and will feature a three-level underground parking lot with an estimated total of 177 spaces.

According to the advertisement, the current project also meets the “minimum standard” for LEED Gold Certification for environmental sustainability, which will potentially allow the developer to acquire loans at lower interest rates.

In a controversial decision, City Council previously reduced fees associated with affordable housing, arts and significant community benefits for the project’s developers, resulting in a discount of about $10 million.

“(The council) didn’t give a logical explanation,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. “I think it was a moral travesty to give someone three fee reductions without a coherent public policy purpose.”

In 2016, an unsuccessful lawsuit was filed against the city of Berkeley by residents who claimed that the project’s approval had violated the California Environmental Quality Act.

Salem Partners and Arbor Realty Capital Advisors could not be reached for comment. The price of the property was not listed on the advertisement.

Some Berkeley residents opposed the project, citing concerns that the building may obstruct the city’s view to the bay, among other reasons, according to Kelly Hammargren, one of the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Hammargren also said the developers of the Harold Way project allegedly bought the property only to “flip” it for money. She further alleged that Hill Street Realty, the developer that currently owns the Harold Way property, mainly aims to buy and sell properties not to build on them.

“They buy, they entitle, they sell,” Hammargren said. “We try to tell the City Council and the Zoning Adjustments Board that not only is this a bad building at this site, but you are approving a building for speculators.”

Worthington said it has become increasingly common for developers to put acquired properties up for sale during or after construction permit application, instead of carrying out constructions. He added that the value of properties increases once developers obtain a permit.

“I think it used to be that the developer who proposed the project went through all the way,” Worthington said.

Charlene Jin is the lead business and economy reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @CharleneJin0327.