BART directors will vote next Thursday on a proposal by staff that the transit agency spend $227 million to buy a building in downtown Oakland and upgrade it so it can serve as its new headquarters.
BART spokesman Chris Filippi said on Friday that staff did extensive research for more than a year before recommending buying the building at 2150 Webster St., which is only a few blocks from its current headquarters at the Kaiser Center complex at 300 Lakeside Dr.
The proposal calls for spending $140 million to buy the building and $85 million to improve it, along with $2 million in closing costs.
A 25-year sales tax bond would finance the deal. Filippi said BART’s lease at its current headquarters will expire in 2021 and its rent could increase by as much as 90 percent if it renews its lease there.
Filippi said BART officials believe buying the 2150 Webster St. building provides the lowest cost option over the next 25 years and would save up to $150 million compared to leasing costs over that time.
In addition, he said BART would own the building after the debt service period expires.
Filippi said the move would be a 33 percent reduction in square footage for its headquarters, as it occupies 369,587 square feet at the
Kaiser Center complex, while it would have 250,000 square feet at 2150 Webster St.
But he said BART officials think the proposed new location will have enough space because workers “can be more efficient” there. Filippi said the 2150 Webster St. site is a centralized location near the 19th Street BART station and will have a board meeting room on its ground floor that is more accessible to the public.
The board currently meets on the third floor of the Kaiser Center 20th Street Mall, which is the building next to its headquarters. BART also considered relocating to a new tower at 601 12th St. in downtown Oakland, where Blue Shield has a lease, but a report by BART manager of real estate Sean Brooks concluded the costs were higher than at 2150 Webster St.
In addition, BART studied moving to two proposed office projects by different developers at the Lake Merritt and West Oakland BART stations on
land that the agency owns.
But Brooks said in his report that those projects aren’t approved and won’t be ready in time when BART’s lease expires.
Lane Partners and Walton Street Capital own 2150 Webster St., which was formerly an AT&T office building that was fully renovated. Filippi said that if the BART board votes to approve the move work to upgrade the 2150 Webster St. building would begin in the summer of 2020 and employees would begin moving there in April 2021 and finish moving there in July 2021, when the lease at the current headquarters site expires.