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Doyle House Demolished For Kennedy Project

Tuesday May 20, 2003

Developer Patrick Kennedy demolished the Doyle House on University Avenue Monday, bringing an end to a 17-month fight over the 19th-century home of Berkeley pioneer John M. Doyle.  

Kennedy plans to build a $7 million building at the downtown site, including 35 residential units and a flower shop. 

Preservationists with the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA), who argued that the house was an important historical resource, sought to block the project but lost a court battle last month. 

In recent weeks, Mayor Tom Bates tried to broker a deal that would have moved the house a block away and saved it from the wrecking ball. Berkeley resident Ian Faircloth, who was set to take the house on his Berkeley Way property, put up $25,000 for moving costs, BAHA pledged $15,000 and Kennedy offered $10,000. But the city requires a 20-day waiting period for the permit to move a structure, and Kennedy said he couldn’t wait. 

“We want to build during the summer when the weather’s good,” said Kennedy, who aims to complete the project by August 2004. 

BAHA board member Austene Hall criticized Kennedy for the decision. 

“For want of a couple of weeks, [he will] tear down 113 years of important Berkeley history,” she said. 

The developer said he twice offered the house to BAHA — once in December 2001, when BAHA moved to sue, and again in April. Kennedy said the group should have acted when the move was still a realistic possibility. 

“Moving a house is a very complex deal that cannot be thrown together in two weeks,” he said. 

Hall said Kennedy should have conducted an environmental impact report on the project months ago, which would have thrown it into the public arena. The publicity, she said, would have generated early public interest in moving the building.