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Regents move forward with renovation plans for UC presidential mansion

Regents move forward with renovation plans for UC presidential mansion
The Daily Californian
19 September 2013
Image: Joe Wright/The Daily Californian

The UC Board of Regents moved forward Tuesday with plans to repair the university-owned Blake House, an abandoned mansion that traditionally has housed the UC president and accommodated local UC functions but has fallen into disrepair since 2008.

Proposed preliminary renovation plans include roof repair and restoration of water-damaged facilities. The estimated cost of repairs is $370,000 and will come exclusively from the Searles Fund, a private endowment typically used by the university for housing presidents and chancellors.

The university estimates the total cost of housing renovations will be between $3.5 million and $6 million.

The regents’ agenda said renovating the Blake House will be cheaper for the university over a 15-year span than continuing to lease housing for the UC president and renting facilities for UC events.

Regent Frederick Ruiz suggested at the meeting that the university look into selling the property instead of seeking costly renovations. However, Nathan Brostrom, the university’s executive vice president for business operations, said selling the Blake House is not a viable option for the university. 

UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design maintains control of the estate’s expansive gardens and uses them for teaching and research. If the university sells the Blake House, the money from the sale will go exclusively to an endowment for the college and not toward the purchase of another home for the UC president, Brostrom said.