UC President's House May Require Repairs

Officials Say $10 Million Is Necessary for Blake House Repairs After Delayed Maintenance

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The University of California could spend an estimated $10 million on repairs to the UC president's home in Kensington after years of delayed maintenance have made the home unfit to live in, university officials said.

Blake House, the home of the university president since 1969, is being assessed for repairs because of major structural and electrical and plumbing system problems that have been accumulating over the years, said UC spokesperson Paul Schwartz.

Built in 1926 and donated to the university in 1962, the three-story, 13,239-square-foot house sits on the site of a landslide. Constant shifting and settling of the house has led to problems with the foundation, causing roof and wall damage, he said.

Schwartz said that the house's condition has reached such a state of disrepair that it is no longer suitable for residence.

"At some point we feel we have an obligation, in terms of the use of our resources and being good stewards of the public trust, to reassess the building," he said.

An assessment of the residence conducted in 2007 estimated that repairs could cost approximately $7 million, but the repairs could not go forward due to financial constraints and because current UC President Robert Dynes has occupied the house for the last five years, Schwartz said.

"It has been used as a personal residence for the last several presidents and you can't really do major work when it's occupied," he said.

Incoming UC President Mark Yudof will have to live elsewhere if renovations take place, and the university is currently looking for alternative housing, but has not yet located anything, Schwartz said.

Schwartz noted that the house operates on very old electrical and plumbing systems, which would be replaced if renovations were to occur.

Some small repairs were made four years ago and maintenance costs rose to $300,000 a year, but have since leveled off at about $100,000 a year, he said.

The money for renovations would come from private endowment funds, Schwartz said.

The house's Blake Garden, open to the public and operated by UC Berkeley's department of landscape architecture and environmental planning, would not be affected by any of the renovations.


Contact Anna Widdowson at [email protected]

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