Skating Around Plans To Raze Berkeley Ice Rink

Posted on: October 4th, 2007 by Preservation magazine

Berkeley Ice RinkLarger than an Olympic-sized rink and host to three national championships, the Berkeley Iceland Rink in Berkeley, Calif., is still on slippery ground, despite its new landmark status.

Owner Eastbay Iceland Inc. announced plans to close the facility in January. Plans to demolish the building and put up townhouses fell through, however, and the community took the opportunity to step up.

Naming itself after the rink, the nonprofit group Berkeley Iceland worked to get city landmark status for the building. Eastbay Iceland appealed the landmarking, but the city upheld the designation, and now a state landmark designation is in the works.

The owners are asking upwards of $6.45 million for the building. So far, the nonprofit has raised $600,000 with a goal of more than $2 million, hoping to negotiate a lower price.

"Previously interested developers have pulled out due to the landmark designation," says Caroline Winnet, spokesperson for Berkeley Iceland. "Hopefully the owners will turn to us as the best buyer."

Completed in 1940, the 50,000-square-foot modern structure seats 3,000 people, and its large windows make artificial lighting unnecessary. If the nonprofit's efforts to buy the building succeed, it wants to create yoga and dance rooms, climbing walls, and batting cages.

"I have met people who are third-generation skaters at the rink, and they don't want to see it become anything else," says Elizabeth Grassetti, director of programs for Berkeley Iceland. "It was built as a community venture, and we want to return it to a community venture."

- Leah Webster for Preservation Online

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