BERKELEY — The University of California has bought an office building that’s within a block of the UC Berkeley campus, a deal that gives the education behemoth a tighter grip on properties in the area.

An affiliate led by Nathan George, an entrepreneur who heads up two companies based in Berkeley, sold the building to an entity that’s controlled by UC Investments, according to documents filed on Feb. 14 with the Alameda County Recorder’s Office.

The UC Investments affiliate paid $30.1 million for the office building at 2120 Berkeley Way in Berkeley, the county records show.

Regency 2120 Berkeley Way, the UC Investments affiliate, bought the six-story office building in an all-cash deal, according to the public records.

University of California wheels and deals to buy Berkeley
office building 2
2120 Berkeley Way office building totaling 45,500 square feet (L) is across the street from the Berkeley Way West office complex (R) that totals 320,000 square feet. (Google Maps)

The property that Oakland-based UC Investments has just bought is known as the UC Press Building.

In 2019, the Nathan George group launched a wide-ranging revamp and expansion of the building.

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Through the project, the developer renovated the bottom three floors of the building, which was initially constructed in 1924. Three modern floors were added to the building, Berkeley city planning records show.

“UC Investments manages the University of California’s retirement, endowment, working capital and cash assets,” according to the UC Office of the President’s website.

The university’s investment entity at present manages a portfolio with an estimated value of $161 billion, the UC President’s website states.

The building that UC Investments purchased is located across the street from Berkeley Way West, a big office complex that the university developed in recent years that totals 320,000 square feet.

In 2017, the seller wound up in a dispute with the university regarding the new Berkeley Way West office complex across the street from the 2120 Berkeley Way building that was sold this month.

The Nathan George group that owned the 2120 Berkeley building became alarmed that the university could become a competitor for office tenants, according to a letter that George’s attorney wrote UC officials.

George complained that the university was supposed to use the big new office complex at 1919 Shattuck Ave. solely for educational purposes.

“The campus’s Graduate School of Education, School of Public Health and the Department of Psychology” were listed as the official uses of the new office hub, according to a press release the university issued in 2015 when construction was getting underway on the Berkeley Way West building.

But the owner of the smaller 2120 Berkeley way building accused the university of attempting to add non-educational occupants to the new university building.

“We have learned that the university seeks to expand the use of Berkeley Way West and has offered both office and retail spaces to private businesses,” Nathan George’s group wrote in the letter to the university.

The university’s educational charter prohibits the organization from leasing space in university buildings to private businesses, according to the letter to the university.

The 2120 Berkeley Way building also may have lost some business to the university’s building, the letter asserted.

A prospective tenant for the 2120 offices canceled lease negotiations upon learning the university was offering rental spaces in the big building across the street, according to the letter to the university.

Now, however, the strife has wound up in the rearview mirror with the purchase by UC Investments of the smaller building.

The building that the university investment group’s affiliate bought is deemed to be a top-notch building in Berkeley, according to a marketing brochure for the 2120 Berkeley office property that JLL, a commercial real estate firm, circulated in 2020.

“This is a landmark location” that is “at the intersection of the university, North Shattuck and Downtown Berkeley neighborhoods,” the JLL brochure stated.