Web Service Helps Businesses Find Property Space in Berkeley

Photo: The city's Locate in Berkeley service consolidates office, retail, and industrial space listings in the Berkeley area.
Emma Lantos/Staff
The city's Locate in Berkeley service consolidates office, retail, and industrial space listings in the Berkeley area.

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Though officially launched Sept. 27, the city of Berkeley's new commercial real estate listing service is continually being updated, providing prospective businesses with an aggregate of all available office, retail and industrial spaces citywide.

The free web service, Locate in Berkeley, began as an initiative by the city's Office of Economic Development to publicize commercial vacancies in the city, attracting the support of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Berkeley Association, the Telegraph Avenue Business Improvement District and UC Berkeley's Office of Technology Licensing.

Among the website's listing categories is the Berkeley Start-up Cluster, a grouping aimed at attracting start-up companies to vacant spaces within walking distance of campus, the majority of which are located in Downtown Berkeley.

"Up until now, there's no centralized place to look at commercialized properties," said Jennifer Cogley, the city's sustainable business coordinator. She added that the site contains listings for both broker-represented properties and properties owned by individuals.

Before the site's launch, businesses looking for vacancies had to search for single listings on real estate brokers' websites and Craigslist, according to John Caner, executive director of the Downtown Berkeley Association.

"For a lot of these small spaces (it helps) to see all the availability and do some discovery up-front," Caner said. "The smaller properties are often directly listed by the property owners themselves ... (there is) not a lot of revenue for brokers."

The Downtown Berkeley Association and the Telegraph Avenue Business Improvement District each contributed $2,000 toward the project in exchange for promoting the areas they respectively represent. Links to Locate in Berkeley are found on each organization's website, and both areas are included in the Berkeley start-up cluster's target market.

"The University Office of Technology Licensing has also been supportive - they are interested in finding locations for places spinning out of the university," said Michael Caplan, the city's economic development manager. "(The office contributed) no money, but met with us."

Michael Cohen, associate director of UC Berkeley's Office of Technology Licensing, said he has already informed the director of a Haas School of Business program - Cleantech to Market - about the website so companies developed by the program can find space near the campus.

In addition to assisting the Haas program, software, Internet-oriented or other technology-based start-ups derived from research innovations conducted at campus labs are prospective tenants for spaces in the cluster, according to Cohen.

"A natural development of the website service is to help the start-up companies build a cluster," said Rod Howard, chairman of the city's chamber of commerce board of directors. "We provide contacts in the business community."

While founded on a public and private sector partnership that relies on promotion from all invested parties, the financial costs are covered by the city. This year's costs are expected to be $10,000 and approximately $3,000 to $4,000 for each following year.

"Studies have shown where there's the government, business and university or nonprofit sector working in concert for a common goal, (the area) has a greater potential for economic development," said Cogley.


Hannah Moulthrop covers local business. Contact her at [email protected]

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