Friday, June 25, 2010

Oakland City Council Green-Lights Sale of Henry J. Kaiser

By Kathleen Richards
Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 12:42 PM

As we reported a few months ago, the City of Oakland began looking into selling the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center to help address its multimillion-dollar budget deficit. And it appears one step closer to making that a reality. At last night's meeting, the city council agreed to a proposal to sell the city-owned venue, which shuttered back in 2006. While there are no firm buyers yet, Councilwoman Nancy Nadel said there are two groups interested in purchasing the property.

The city has budgeted to receive about $10 million from the sale, but Nadel believes the city may be able to get more than that. About $30 million in debt is attached to the Henry J., and that amount would be transferred to the City Hall complex if the convention center is sold.

However, whether the city can get $10 million is unclear. At least one potential buyer is Peralta Community College District, whose Laney campus is just across the street from the Kaiser. Alton Jelks, special assistant to Peralta's chancellor, said Peralta already has an offer and is just waiting to meet face-to-face with the city to make it happen. "We’ve been ready," said Jelks this morning. "I think the city has been in so much turmoil just finding the time."

At one point the venue was evaluated at $54 million. Back in March, Councilwoman Jean Quan said Peralta was offering between $6 to $8 million. (The historic venue also needs an estimated $3 to $5 million in repairs.) Jelks wouldn't disclose the amount that Peralta is going to offer, but said, "everyone thinks it's a fair amount. ... I want to emphasize the reason I’ve been pushing for us to do this for several years is we don’t have any predetermined motivation. This is about bringing that wonderful facility back to use."

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