After waging a six-year legal battle over the right to build a mansion and 10-car garage in the Berkeley hills, Lotus Development Corp. founder Mitch Kapor and his wife Freada Kapor-Klein have put their property on the market.
The Kapors were not available to comment by publication time.
The legal battle began when the Berkeley Hillside Preservation Group, sued the city over the need to conduct an environmental impact report (EIR) of the Kapors’ building plans on the Rose Street property.
In general, single-family homes are exempt from conducting state-mandated impact reports but the Hillside Preservation Group argued that the proposed structure was exceptionally large and in an area that was susceptible to landslides. In order to build the mansion, the road would also have to be widened. Together, the group argued, the plans would generate an impact to the environment, and thus required a review.
Originally, the city of Berkeley approved the Kapors’ plans in 2010 to construct a 6,478-square-foot home with adjacent a 3,394-square-foot garage on a sloping lot near Codornices Park. Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects designed the proposed mansion, which would have been one of the largest in the city.
2012 saw something of a victory for the neighborhood organization as the state’s First District Court of Appeals ordered an environmental study, agreeing with the Hillside Preservation Group that the size and location were unusual aspects.
Three years later that decision was reversed. In March of 2015, the California Supreme Court left intact an earlier ruling that limited the need for an environmental review of large single-family homes, such as the one the Kapors wished to build.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court ordered the appellate panel to reconsider the plans.
After doing so, the appeals court ruled in September 2015 that there was enough evidence to support the city’s decision to go forward without an environmental review — thus paving the way for the Kapors to build the mansion.
Except now it appears they are moving on.
The advertisement for the property says:
“29,774 Sq. Ft. BUILD SITE w/ BAY VIEWS. Exceptional Berkeley Hills location. Sale includes APPROVED Wong-Logan ARCHITECTURAL PLANS for approx. 6500 Sq. Ft. home w/ approx. 3400 Sq. Ft. underground parking. Also included: Boundary & topographic survey, conceptual grading plan, site engineering etc.”
The Kapors bought the property for $725,000 in 2008, according to Redfin.
Mitch Kapor, aside from founding Lotus is also a venture capitalist — he was an early angel investor in ride-hailing giant Uber and the recently public Twilio — and philanthropist. The Kapors are involved with several Oakland-based initiatives such as the Level Playing Field Institute and Kapor Center for Social Impact.
The couple also owns homes in Oakland and Healdsburg.
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