Landmark Flint Site On the Auction Block

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday June 05, 2007

The former site of Flint Ink in West Berkeley went on the auction block Friday, but just who won remains a mystery. 

The site, covering almost 4.8 acres in two parcels south of Gilman Street, housed Berkeley’s oldest existing manufacturing plant, where Flint Ink Co. once produced a rainbow of hues for printers across the nation—including the first magnetic inks used for bank checks. 

Today, the site—declared a city landmark in 1986—stands vacant, and the owners, who include developer Ali Kashani, are awaiting the results of an auction being conducted by Accelerated Marketed Group (AMG) of Newport Beach. 

The larger of the two parcels, 3.36 acres, is bound by Gilman, Camelia, Fourth and Fifth streets. The second bloc of 1.42 acres, occupies the south half of the block bound by Gilman, Camelia, Fourth and Fifth streets, with the northern half of the block occupied by The Tannery. 

As a condition of the sale, the owners will be required to complete an environmental cleanup of the site, which is laden with chemicals from nearly a century of manufacturing in a complex that once numbered about 20 structures. 

Michael Caplan, the city’s acting Economic Development Director, said he had contacted the auctioneer Monday morning. “I believe they are waiting until all the anticipated bids have arrived,” Caplan said. 

City Councilmember Linda Maio, whose district includes the site, said she didn’t know anything more than Cisco De Vries, the chief of staff to Mayor Tom Bates, who had referred a reporter to Caplan as the most knowledgeable member of the city staff. 

The official deadline for bids was 5 p.m. Friday.  

Neither AMG President Todd Good nor Executive Vice President Bob Daniel had returned a reporter’s phone calls by late Monday afternoon. 

The site’s status as a landmark featured in last November’s election battle over Measure J, the revised Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO) that went down to defeat by a 57-43 percent margin. 

Opponents of the ordinance, which would have preserved and legally buttressed the city’s existing and often-controverisal LPO, included the Flint Ink designation among those they charged were of questionable value. 

The Landmarks Preservation Commission had made the designation citing the plant’s architecture and its historic significance.