Oakland tower planned on historic, university to be tenant

OAKLAND — Downtown Oakland will gain a new office tower and a refurbished historic building, executives with a joint venture that have bought a key development site in the city’s urban core said Monday.

The University of California’s Office of the President is expected to be a major tenant in the office project, which is known as the 1100 Broadway site, where the historic Key System Building is located.

“This is a very significant deal for Oakland,” said James Ellis, managing principal with Ellis Partners, a realty firm that is one of the partners in the development venture for 1100 Broadway. Ellis said his firm is looking forward to be able to “transform such an important block in the middle of downtown.”

Ellis wouldn’t disclose the name of the office tenant, other than to say a long-term lease has been signed for 130,000 square feet in the lower floors of the new building. However, people familiar with the transaction said the University of California Office of the President, which has occupied space in downtown Oakland for a considerable time, is the initial tenant in the 1100 Broadway project.

The property, at the corner of Broadway and 11th Street, consists of a vacant lot and a century-old office building that once was the headquarters of the old Key System, a web of trains and buses that connected the East Bay and San Francisco.

The developers intend to build a new 320,000-square-foot Class A office tower on the site. They also plan a major face lift for the Key System Building, which was built in 1911 and totals 34,000 square feet.

Ellis Partners has teamed up with Intercontinental Real Estate in a joint venture to redevelop the site.

“We have been evaluating opportunities for ground-up development in this market for some time and look forward to finding other ways to participate in the vibrant Bay Area economy,” said Jessica Levin, Intercontinental’s senior director of acquisitions.

SKS Partners is the site’s previous owner,…

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