A University of California Regents committee voted today (Sept. 17) in favor of funding for preliminary plans for possible renovations and other work at Blake House, the traditional residence of the UC president.
The Grounds and Buildings Committee approved $250,000 for the preliminary plans and $370,000 for deferred maintenance at the facility in Kensington, next to Berkeley. The full board will vote on the committee’s recommendation Wednesday (Sept. 18).
Blake House, a 13,000-square-foot building donated to the university in 1957, has not received regular maintenance for several years and has fallen into disrepair, requiring repairs and renovations.
Because of the fiscal crisis that began in 2008, plans under development for renovations at that time were put on hold. With the full extent of the recession unknown in 2008, UC President Mark G. Yudof thought it would be imprudent to commit millions of dollars to the Blake House.
Leased residences were procured for Yudof and President-designate Janet Napolitano.
The UC president and chancellors of the 10 campuses are required by UC policy to live in residences provided by the university so that they can host various types of official gatherings.
Blake House’s main floor of large rooms could serve as a venue for university functions, but the upstairs residential floor is not currently adequate to meet the needs of the president.
It is not known whether the facility will be used again as a presidential residence, but the UC staff reported a strong interest in Blake House as a venue for meetings and conferences, fundraisers, small commencement events and other official functions.
It is estimated that, depending on the scope of work, repairs, renovations and other improvements could range from $3.5 million to $6 million, funded from the Searles Fund, an endowment used for expenses not covered by the state.