Berkeley Hardware has been in its present site for 50 years. The proposed move will take it west on University. Photo: Lance Knobel

Berkeley Ace Hardware, which has been in its present site at 2145 University Avenue for 50 years (and in business near that site since 1895), looks poised to move to the old Andronico’s building at 1414 University Avenue. The lease has not yet been signed by Berkeley Ace Hardware’s owners, Bill and Virginia Carpenter, but realtor Michael Korman said a “fundamental agreement” had been reached.

“We hope this will go,” Korman said. “It looks very promising.”

Berkeley Hardware’s move has been spurred by the planned Acheson Commons development, which will see the construction of 205 new residential units in the block that includes the hardware store. The landmarked exterior of Berkeley Ace Hardware will be preserved, but the closure during construction made relocation imperative if the store was to continue in business. The parking area currently behind the hardware store will also be lost in the redevelopment.

Berkeley Hardware is the oldest operating business in Berkeley aside from the University of California.

The old Andronico’s site, on the corner of University and Acton, provides 25,000 sq ft of retail space and parking. The space would enable Berkeley Ace Hardware to maintain its current stock levels, including the treasure trove of model kits and trains in the basement of the current store, according to a source close to the deal.

The 1414 University site is in “pretty good shape”, according to Korman, but work will be necessary to convert the store from its former use to the hardware store. Accessible bathrooms will also be required.

Andronico’s, founded in Berkeley in 1929, closed its University Avenue and Telegraph Avenue stores as part of a restructuring after declaring bankruptcy in August 2011. The company’s five remaining stores have been revamped with investment by owner Renovo Capital.

The crucial Christmas retail season is the critical element in the timing of the Berkeley Ace Hardware move, provided the lease is signed. Either the store will be in the new site by November 1 — which would depend on a breakneck pace of permitting by the city, as well as quick refurbishment — or the move will occur in the new year.

Acheson Commons: new large-scale change for downtown [04.09.12]
Infusion of money should spiff up remaining Andronico’s [11.30.11]

Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out our All the News grid.

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...