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Hink’s Building Sold to Berkeley Man, Library Gardens Construction Begins: By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday November 16, 2004

A major share in one of Berkeley’s most notable buildings, the Hink’s Building at 2200 Shattuck Ave., has been sold, said John DeClerq, senior vice president of TransAction Financial, which had owned the building until early last week. 

DeClerq also presented the city Monday with a check for $1,028,000 to pay building permit fees for Library Gardens, Transaction’s 176-unit apartment complex with five street-level shops, which is replacing the current 362-space Kittredge Street Garage, just west of the central library. 

Excavation for Library Gardens’ single level of underground parking is halfway completed, DeClerq said Monday, with completion scheduled for July 2006. 

Roy Nee, a Berkeley resident for the last five years, purchased two of the three legal entities in the Hinks/Shattuck Hotel complex, bounded by Shattuck and Harold Street to the east and west between Allston Way and Kittredge Street. 

The sale includes the Berkeley Center, the Shattuck Cinema and an adjoining office building at Allston and Harold. The sale does not include the Shattuck Hotel, which is under separate ownership. 

The theater occupies the site that once housed Hink’s Department Store, a fixture of downtown Berkeley for six decades before it closed in the 1980s. Under Transaction’s ownership, the space was turned into a theater complex. 

The purchase also includes the extensive basement space. 

“I was interested in making an investment in downtown Berkeley,” said Nee. “From my perspective, a lot of good things are going on downtown. 

“I’m very interested in the process of how communities transform themselves, and after decades of downtown decline, there has been considerable improvement over the last half-dozen years,” he said. 

Among his immediate plans, Nee plans changes in management and operation and improvement of the theater entrance and other access points. 

In addition to his newest acquisition, Nee has another project in Marin County and he owns the Tea Garden Springs day spa in Mill Valley. 

Legally, his newest acquisition is held by a Delaware corporation which, in turn, is held by a limited partnership. 

The Library Gardens project had been in limbo since the approval of a building permit in February. 

The project generated controversy because of the drastic losses in downtown parking spaces that stemmed from demolition of the Kittredge Street Garage, once the facility for Hink’s customers. 

The final plan as approved by the Zoning Adjustments Board provides 130 spaces, fewer than TransAction had initially promised. DeClerq promised ZAB that significantly more than half the spaces would be reserved for short-term parkers.y