A student apartment complex in Berkeley, known for its unusual castle-like design, has been sold for more than $100 million to a group led by Goldman Sachs.
The Enclave Apartments building on Telegraph Avenue, a few blocks from the UC Berkeley campus, was purchased last week by an affiliated group led by the Wall Street firm in a cash deal for 112 $.9 million, according to public records, which was first reported. by the Mercury News and confirmed by the Times.
The seven-story mixed-use building, with a facade reminiscent of steep cliffs, can accommodate 252 students in dormitory-style units. It includes commercial spaces on the first floor, which are mostly vacant except for a sandwich shop.
Since opening in fall 2020, the structure’s design, described by its architects as a “Moorish palace,” has drawn the intrigued eyes of critics, tourists, students and entrepreneurs.
“It’s like Harry Potter and Fred Flintstone decided to build a McMansion. On acid,” remarked a San Francisco Chronicle reviewer, who also described the resort as a “Moorish-Tudor fever dream.”
The building’s original architect, Kirk Peterson, told Berkeleyside after its completion in 2020, “I wanted to make art. I wanted to make a correct, authentic, historicist building. Now that looks like crap. It looks awful.
Due to city permitting issues, the development changed hands several times and Peterson was replaced by a succession of two architectural firms.
Peterson and the original owner of the property came up with the design drawing inspiration from a mix of influences from several continents: cave dwellings in the south of France, Yemeni architecture, Baroque churches, cities of the hills of Italy and the Spanish neo-colonial style.
“I like it,” said Al Geyer, founder and owner of Annapurna, a longtime smokehouse opposite the Telegraph from the apartment complex. “Early on, when I saw a sketch, I thought it was definitely a place maker, so to speak, that would be around for a century.”
Geyer, whose shop was a hot spot in the Bay Area’s counterculture scene in the 1960s and 1970s, said the Enclave’s playful nature perfectly matched the historically whimsical and irreverent nature of Telegraph Avenue. .
The Berkeley Inn, known to Geyer’s generation as a flea hotel, once stood on the plot. Geyer’s first store opened in a basement of the inn in 1969 on the same weekend as People’s Park, which hosted anti-war and civil rights protests.
A fire destroyed the hotel in the 1980s, leaving a rubble-strewn lot that sat vacant until construction crews cleared the way for the Enclave in 2018, according to the building’s architects.
Geyer said he understands the criticism he’s heard from other residents who decry the building’s discordant design and “Disney-esque” rock facade. But he also decried the architectural monotony of other new housing developments sprouting up across the region and praised the designers of the Enclave for taking a chance.
“It’s not boring; it creates discussions. It’s something that will visually mean this part of Telegraph Avenue forever,” said Geyer.
The Goldman Sachs-led group bought the property from a group of developers that includes Irvine-based LBA Realty. Her previous owners apparently made a hefty profit on the sale.
The value of the property was estimated at about $48.9 million, according to online records from the Alameda County Assessor’s Office.
Los Angeles Times