With hopes of expanding its education program, the Berkeley Repertory Theartre revealed plans, Thursday, for the Nevo Educational Center. The center will be housed in the historic Golden Sheaf Bakery warehouse. Remodeling will begin in September, with a completion date set for the summer of 2001.
The warehouse, located at 2071 Addison Street, is on the east side of the existing Berkeley Repertory’s theater and has been owned by the Berkeley Rep since 1993. Built in 1905, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The new plans for the building include bringing it up to current seismic, life-safety and building codes, as well as increasing handicap access and creating a historic restoration on the South Elevation of the building.
The theatre’s Hilde Mosse Educational Program includes a School Touring Program, which, this year performed, “Rhubarb Jam,” 56 times in 44 different Northern California locations. Another facet of the Educational Program has been a series of Poetry Slams in cooperation with Berkeley High School and its students. One of the major goals the programs is to create an atmosphere in which people can learn from each other.
“We have had three poetry slams which we offered through Berkeley High,” Tony Taccone, Artistic Director at Berkeley Rep, said. “I felt so privileged and blessed to be around (the students.) We hope to create an environment in which we can learn from the students,” as well as the students learning from the instructors.
As a part of the plan Berkeley Rep sold the warehouse to Developer Avi Nevo, who remodeled the Francis Shattuck building at the corner of Addison Street and Shattuck Avenue. Nevo, with architect James Novosel of Bay Architects, will pay for the restoration and construction. After the renovation is completed Nevo will lease the Nevo Educational Center, named for himself, back to Berkeley Rep for $1 per year. The lease agreement is for eight years. The renovation is estimated to cost $1 million dollars. After the eight year period has expired, Berkeley Rep will have the option to buy back the Nevo Educational Center at market rate or consider a new lease agreement.
Nevo’s motivation for helping Berkeley Rep was, “just giving back to the immediate community.” His gift to the theater company was much appreciated by all persons involved. Nevo is a long time resident of Berkeley. The developer, who owns a number of downtown Berkeley sites, came to the United States in 1976 from Israel. He attended UC Berkeley, and has remained in Berkeley ever since.
Berkeley Rep had had conversations with the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association and other historic organizations about what to do with the building but never had the resources to act.
“(Nevo’s gift) feels like a blessing,” Susan Medak, Managing Director of Berkeley Rep said. “With Avi and Dalia’s gift we have been able to expand art related activities in Berkeley. This will enable us to fast foreword our educational program by 5 years.”
The new building will have staff offices on the second level and two high ceiling classrooms. The lower level will have one class room. There will also be a resource center for students and staff. As a part the agreement Nevo will retain a small portion of the second floor for his investment business. In addition to housing the Nevo Educational Center the plans for the warehouse include the entrance of the new Aurura theater at the eastern most side of the building.