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Developer of Library Gardens pulls project

By Devona Walker Daily Planet Staff
Tuesday May 21, 2002

The largest housing development in recent Berkeley history, slated to include 174 units of residential development and necessitate the replacement of 350 parking spaces in central Berkeley, the Library Gardens project was mysteriously pulled from further consideration at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting. 

John DeClercq, vice president of Transaction Companies — the landowners and property developers of 2020 Kittredge St. — did not return phone calls to comment as to why his company has chosen to remove the project from further consideration, but officials at City Hall are guessing that the price tag on the parking element just didn’t pencil out. 

“It is going to cost a lot of money to replace all the parking, and he was very critical of wanting to place the courtyard there (which is what originally necessitated the replacement of existing parking),” said Councilmember Linda Maio. 

According to Maio, underground parking costs a developer approximately $50,000 per space. 

In addition, Transaction Companies had lost a number of the long-term tenants for the project due to the fact that they would lose parking while the project was under construction. 

In January, DeClercq threatened to sue the city over the same project, in an attempt to exempt Library Gardens from the Inclusionary Housing Restriction, which requires all developments of five or more residential units to include affordable housing. The basis of the lawsuit was that the inclusionary restrictions in the city’s Zoning Ordinance are inconsistent with an element in the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act that requires that residential development built after 1995 not be subject to rent control. 

But despite the threatened lawsuit, several councilmembers have referred to the Library Gardens project as being very popular with city officials. 

“The reason some developers give for pulling a project is that there’s so much dissension, but almost everyone supported this project,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. “So that was not the reason.” 

Worthington went on to say he does not know why the project was pulled.