A deal is in place to sell the illegal West Berkeley warehouse where several long-time residents have refused to leave their homes, owner Lawrence White said Friday.
White would not disclose the buyer or the sale price for the East Bay Drayage at Addison and Third streets. He said the new owner would build housing on the 40,000-square-foot site, but didn’t know if the new units would be condominiums or apartments.
White also would not comment on whether the deal is contingent on his successfully evicting the 11 tenants still living in the building.
Claudia Viera, a tenant, said several of the remaining residents planned to fight eviction proceedings, scheduled to begin this fall.
The tentative deal appears to end chances that White will grant the wishes of his tenants and sell the property to the Northern California Land Trust. The land trust had pledged to bring the building up to code and give residents a chance to buy their units.
Land Trust Executive Director Ian Winters had said his group offered White $2.5 million for the property, a claim White rejected Friday.
“They never made a serious offer,” he said.
White said he would consider requiring the new owner to give some of the remaining tenants first rights to units in the new building set aside under Berkeley law for affordable housing.
White had been asking $2.7 million for the property which he purchased in 1997 for $1.08 million.
The refusal of tenants, many of whom lived in the warehouse for a decade, to leave their homes has drawn attention to the loss of affordable live-work artist space in Berkeley as real estate prices continue to rise.
“The key thing is a whole bunch of affordable housing is about to get flushed down the toilet,” said Jeffrey Carter, the tenants' legal advisor. He said he doubted that any units in a new development would be set aside for former tenants.
Earlier this year, White had a deal to sell the property to Developer Ali Kashani for $2.05 million. Then a fire inspection uncovered more than 200 code violations. White has been fined over $200,000 by the city since April 15 for failing to evacuate residential tenants from the building. He said he plans to contest the fines.
Deputy Fire Chief David Orth said the city was in the process of filing a lien on the property to collect fines in the case of a sale.