The Daily Californian Online

Center For Green Businesses, Nonprofits Opens

By Arielle Turner
Contributing Writer
Monday, May 11, 2009
Category: News > City > Business

The David Brower Center, which opened on Sunday, houses organizations that promote environmental sustainability and social justice.

After two years of construction, a multi-million dollar center for green and nonprofit organizations in Downtown Berkeley opened its doors to the public on Sunday.

The David Brower Center currently leases office space for 12 organizations that promote environmental sustainability and social justice. The center also includes a theater, gallery and meeting rooms available for rent.

Amy Tobin, the center's executive director, said she expects the center to remain financially solvent despite the recent economic downturn.

"There are a lot of people who contributed to build the center who really believe in it," she said. "With that community support and our revenue, we'll have a good financial model."

Rent in other office buildings is lower than in the center, according to Sibella Kraus, president of Sustainable Agriculture Education, one of the center's tenants.

"It's ... on the higher side of office space," she said. "But I think there are going to be so many benefits to being here in this building, so many opportunities for collaboration."

One office in the building remains to be leased, Tobin said.

Councilmember Kriss Worthington said the center is set apart from other office buildings because it is an environmentally friendly building.

"It's something to brag about, that you're in the David Brower Center," he said. "I think they will have less vacancies than most commercial areas."

Peter Bosshard, policy director of International Rivers, another organization that is leasing office space in the center, said that financial difficulties are just part of life for nonprofits.

"It may of course be more difficult now than they had imagined when they planned the building," he said.

Some organizations in the building might have problems paying their rents in light of the economic downturn, Worthington said.

"Just about everybody is affected by the economy," he said.

Kath Delaney, chief executive officer of Madera Group, a tenant in the building, said increased social awareness will lead to a bigger market for nonprofit organizations.

"(There is) an economic and an energy transformation that (nonprofits are) being asked to do," she said. "We're not going anywhere. Our work is going to succeed because we're part of the solution."

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