The Arpeggio Building at 2055 Center Street has been bought by CityView. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The Arpeggio Building at 2055 Center Street, which was once envisioned as gleaming tower of pricy condos, has been sold to a real estate group that plans to open it as apartments in late September.

CityView, a real estate fund founded by Henry Cisneros, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton, paid $60 million for the 143-unit, nine-story building. Its seller was Dallas-based SNK Realty, which had secured a $65 million loan from U.S. Bank as part of its $81 million development of the project.

“We’re really excited,” said Anthony Cardoza, managing director of CityView’s $300 million Bay Area Fund and a resident of Berkeley until last year. “I think it will be nice for the urban core. Berkeley continues to want to invest in downtown. The more bodies you have down there, the more people living there, the more it changes the foot traffic and the feel of the downtown community – for the better.”

Since the condo market has collapsed, CityView will rent the spaces as apartments, with rents ranging from $2,000 a month for studios to $4,500 a month for penthouses with a view, said Cardoza. Twenty-three of the building’s 143 units will be set aside for affordable housing, with rents starting at $900 a month and going up to $1,400 for a two-bedroom apartment.

The apartments will appeal to Cal professors, empty nesters, and tech workers, he said. It is not envisioned as appealing to students.

The building is essentially finished, although some apartments still need appliances and flooring.

Berkeley Repertory Theatre recently moved into 13,000-square feet of rehearsal space in the Arpeggio Building, which it will use for its own productions and rent out to other local theater companies.  The original developer of the building was granted permission to build four extra stories – to a height of 120 feet – in exchange for building affordable housing and an art space.

The Arpeggio has been in development for almost a decade. It was originally proposed by Seagate Properties of San Rafael, which sold its investment to SNK in May 2005. SNK started construction of the building in 2008, but apparently ran out of funds before it could complete and open the building. SNK officials have repeatedly declined to talk to Berkeleyside about the situation.

In order to construct the building, SNK had to close part of Center Street for a number of years. The city has a $100,000 lien against the building for that closure. Cardoza said his group will pay off the lien and any other obligations against the building.

The Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System is the largest investor in CityView, which is largely backed by institutional investors.

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