Jul 8 2012

Piedmont Avenue Library to Move into Used Modular

Echo Avenue view of future library

playground view of future library

On Tuesday, July 3, the Oakland City Council (OCC) approved a five-year $150,000 lease and $200,000 for moving costs and tenant improvements to relocate the Piedmont Avenue Branch of the Oakland Public Library to a modular unit on Echo Avenue.

The Oakland Public Library (OPL) administrators have been in negotiation with the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) for several years about moving the library to the grounds of the Piedmont Avenue Elementary School at 4314 Piedmont Avenue.   The used modular unit has been an OUSD classroom for some years and, according to the contract, is leased to the City in “as-is condition.  …City acknowledges that neither District nor District’s agents have made any representation or warranty as to the suitability of the Modular Building…”  The modular unit is approximately 1600 square feet (compared with the current 1700 square foot library building) and is located four and a half blocks from the current library location.

The modular unit will be rented for $2500 per month or $30,000 per year –  $150,000 for the term of the five-year lease agreement.  According to the lease contract, it commences as of “February 1, 2012 or when the modular has been delivered to the City.”  Utility expenses will be estimated by the OUSD and paid by the City of Oakland.  The terms of this agreement with the OUSD were recommended for approval by OPL staff.  On June 26, the Life Enrichment Committee of the OCC also recommended the proposed agreement and tenant improvements funding.

The rent will be paid from Measure Q fund 2241, the Oakland library parcel tax approved by 77.2% of voters in Oakland.  The $200,000 for the cost of the move and tenant improvements to the modular unit will come from Library Trust Fund 7540. 

The Piedmont Avenue branch library has been the original and only tenant in the architect-designed library building since 1932.  When Citibank offered to sell the library building to the City of Oakland in 2008 and 2009, Oakland declined.  Citibank then required the private purchaser of the adjacent bank building to buy the library building and library building lot as a condition of the purchase of the bank building and its lot.  For an entire year the new owner privately subsidized the library by providing it with free rent.  When the City remained uninterested in buying the library building, the new owner offered a 10-year lease at $4250 per month.  The City declined this offer as well, but in the fall of 2010 entered into a one-year lease with a one-year optional extension.  When the first year of the lease expired, the City declined to exercise the extension.  In order to have more flexibility, the City preferred a month-to-month tenancy with a 30-day intention to vacate notice provision and a monthly rent of $4900.  It is expected that the 30-day notice will be given by the City Administrator this summer.

Three libraries in the OPL System are not City-owned: the Cesar Chavez Branch Library in the Fruitvale BART transit village, the Eastmont Branch Library in Eastmont Mall, and the Piedmont Avenue Branch Library at 160 41st Street with convenient parking across the street in the Key Route Parking Lot.  The move into the modular unit is viewed as a temporary situation, lasting at most five years, until a permanent library facility can be planned and financed. 

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