Marchant Building in promotional materials for East Bay Green Corridor
Marchant Building in promotional materials for East Bay Green Corridor.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory received a fourth Berkeley proposal for a new campus – the old Marchant Building on San Pablo Avenue near Ashby Avenue.

Redico, a Michigan-based real-estate development company, suggested to the lab that the 540,000 square foot building on a 6.5 acre plot of land become its new second campus, according to a knowledgeable source who asked not to be named.

The Marchant Building, which was used by the University of California as a storage facility for 28 years, straddles Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland. The university vacated the building in 2010 and Redico has been promoting it since then as prime R&D and office space for the East Bay Green Corridor.

The lab received 21 proposals for a second campus from eight cities: Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville, Albany, Alameda, Richmond, Walnut Creek and Dublin. Lab officials will whittle down the sites to four or five by April, and select a final site by June. The lab hopes to move into its new campus by December 2015.

Lab officials have not publicly announced which sites have been proposed, but word has been leaking out since the March 4 deadline.

The Marchant Building becomes the fourth lab site proposed for Berkeley. The others are:

  • A 12.5-acre parcel off Bolivar Drive near Aquatic Park. Michael and Steven Goldin, co-owners of Swerve, a modern furniture manufacturer, and the Jones family, who owns the land that once held American Soil, are joining their properties together for the proposal. This is raw land, so laboratory facilities would have to be constructed.
  • Wareham Development already leases hundreds of thousands of square feet of space to Berkeley Lab, including the Berkeley West Biocenter on Potter Street. Wareham apparently offered a Berkeley-based proposal, an Emeryville-only based proposal and a joint Berkeley-Emeryville proposal with properties scattered around the region, according to knowledgeable sources.
  • Golden Gate Fields: The Canadian owner of the 140-acre horse track, MI Development, has been trying to develop land adjacent to the track for years. The company will offer the land, which straddles Berkeley and Albany, to Lawrence Berkeley Lab. If the lab selects the site for its short-list, the company will consider tearing down the racetrack and moving horseracing related jobs to another northern California site, according to Dennis Mills, vice-chairman of MI Development.

Three Berkeley sites proposed for new LBL campus [03.04.11]
Lawrence Berkeley Lab issues wish list for new campus [01.04.11]

Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel (co-founder) is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California,...

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  1. @Jeff: Yes, I am a layperson, and I did read the article. In any case, this is hypothetical. I simply asked a question about possible activities at the second campus. But if radiation is so safe, why are cancer treatment facilities underground?

  2. Just as long as we can keep it in Berkeley or Albany, i dont care where it goes. Say NO to Walnut Creek and Dublin.

  3. Radiation from a Berkeley Lab site is like that from Japan: you will get more from radiation spending your day in Tilden compared to spending it down in the flats. Check out Richard Muller’s (professor at UCB) materials. You can download his podcasts, book chapters, buy his books, etc. Does a great job at explaining radiation (and all physics) to the lay person.

  4. Fran: My wife worked it LBL in the hills for 30 years. One of my friends used to say that she glowed in the dark because of the radiation she was exposed to, but that was just a joke. It didn’t do her any harm.

  5. It’s also right smack-dab next to a residential area. Does anyone happen to know what activities would take place there? I mean, presence of radiation, teratogens, etc.

  6. Jesse must mean the Albany race track? I agree with Charles, this is a great location and it can improve the retail corridor along San Pablo. It’s also a large site and doesn’t cannibalize properties like the Wareham site seems to do. It might be good to have an exit from the site reconfigured directly to Ashby from the south though in order to reduce the potential traffic on San Pablo. In any event the traffic pattern on Ashby at San Pablo needs to be improved if this goes forward. I wonder if the Aquatic Park site is either big enough or has adequate transportation and utility infrastructure.

  7. My first impression is that it is an excellent site. It would bring people to a neighborhood that needs revitalization, and it is on a major transit-retail corridor.

    By contrast, the other sites in proposed in Berkeley have little or no transit and retail within walking distance. Those sites would be very auto-dependent. Putting the lab on those sites would not have the side-benefit of revitalizing a retail corridor.

    Jesse, I don’t know what you mean by tearing down tracks. Could you elaborate?

  8. Wait, tear down the track for labs when there’s so many other existing spaces? If the track goes, which I hope it doesn’t, it’d be better to put that beautiful piece of property to some recreational public use.

    Plus, I think it’s a bad time in the media for highly technical facilities perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean…