Special Closed Meeting of the Waterfront Commission
January 12, 2000
Chair Wolgast called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
1. ROLL CALL
COMMISSIONERS PRESENT: Cobb, Kamen, Minasian, Kawczynska
STAFF: Smith, Marchetti, Caronna, Lambert
2. LEASING CITY OF BERKELEY PROPERTY OF 225 UNIVERSITY AVENUE
A special meeting was held to discuss the possible lease of 225 University Avenue by the Center for EcoLiteracy. Mr. Bill Lambert of the City’s Economic Development Department, and the City’s real estate broker, Mr. DonYost, described a lease proposal that they were developing with the Center for Ecoliteracy, an existing Berkeley nonprofit. Mr. Lambert said that he had asked State of California authorities about the possibility of selling the property’s improvements and whether the Center would qualify as a tenant. He said that the State had informed him that the City could not sell the improvements and that the sale offer had to be converted to a long-term lease. He also said that the State of California had informed him that the Center for Ecoliteracy and their proposed subtenant, the Bay Institute, are eligible tenants. The Center is currently located on San Pablo Avenue.
Mr. Lambert asked the Commission to review the concept. He said that he had not begun actual negotiations, but that he had discussed some of the major “deal points” and “reached agreements.” He asked if the Commission would recommend to the City Council that staff enter into a 120 day exclusive negotiations with the Center for Ecoliteracy. He said if the Commission made the recommendation he would bring the item to a closed session of the City Council in February. He said that if the Council approved the proposal, City staff would enter into 120-day exclusive negotiating period and ask for a lessee deposit of $10,000. He said He would eventually return to the Commission with a negotiated lease for the Commission’s approval.
He said that The Center for Ecoliteracy has existed “for a number of years.” He said they raise and disburse funds to other nonprofits working on clean water, watershed habitat and other ecology issues. They also train teachers concepts of eco sustainability and eco literacy. He said they would do a major renovation of the facility.
He said the Board of the Center was very knowledgeable. . He expected the Center to use passive solar energy and other “ecological principles” building devices and that one of the Board members had designed similar buildings. He said that the Center would spend as up to $1,300,000 to renovate the building and of that amount about $800,000 is needed simply to make the building habitable. He said the Center wanted to make it a model teacher training center.
Commissioner Kawczynska asked whether the Center actually had sufficient funds to make this type of commitment. Mr. Lambert said that the Center itself did not have a “deep balance sheet.” but that the accountant of a wealthy board member had written him providing evidence of this individual’s ability and willingness to guarantee $2,000,000 in funding. He said that lease would be structured to guarantee that funding.
Commissioner Smith said that the lease as described was a very long lease. He asked what the revenue stream to the Marina would be. Mr. Lambert said the lease payments would go to the Marina fund including a one-time payment of $300,000 followed by $30,000 a year on the ground lease adjusted by an annual cost of living escalator. He said that the Center would be asked to maintain a retail presence in the front of the building and that they had additionally offered to provide $50,000 a year for six years for community education programs. He said that the lease would be structured to gain revenue from any subtenants.
Commissioner Kamen asked what would happen if the Center for Ecoliteracy changed its mission or failed prior to or after the rehabilitation of the building. Mr. Lambert said that the lease would be contingent upon the City issuing a use permit. He said the lease would be structured to restrict use of the buildings to the activity in which the Center is currently engaged. Mr. Yost said that the project would be bonded for completion.
Don Yost offered to take Commission members on a tour of the structure to show them the state of its dilapidation, and why it has been impossible to find a food service tenant willing to lease the structure.
Commissioner Kamen asked whether the lease would provide for the collection by the City of a percentage of the subtenant’s gross receipts. Mr. Lambert said that the details of how this would be done had not been worked out, but that the Commission would be able to review the lease in detail once it had been negotiated.
Commissioner Smith asked whether consideration had been given to demolishing the structure. Mr. Lambert responded that the City would be lest with the ground lease. He said that some consideration had been given to demolishing the structure but the current proposal was a better deal for the City.
Motion (Smith/Cobb; Ayes Smith, Cobb, Minasian, Kamen, Wolgast, Kawczynska; Noes: none; Abstentions: none; absences: Wozniak, Ang, Windham) that the Waterfront Commission recommend to the City Council that it direct staff to enter into a120 day exclusive negotiating period with the Center for Ecoliteracy for lease of the City of Berkeley property at 225 University Avenue