Cal Names Developer Its First 'Vice Chancellor for Real Estate'

UC Berkeley announced Tuesday that it has created a new job of "Vice Chancellor for Real Estate" that will be filled by Cal alum and benefactor Robert Lalanne, founder of the San Francisco real estate development company, the Lalanne Group.

Robert Lalanne was named the first UC Berkeley "Vice Chancellor for Real Estate" on Dec. 17, 2013. Photo courtesy of UC Berkeley
Robert Lalanne was named the first UC Berkeley "Vice Chancellor for Real Estate" on Dec. 17, 2013. Photo courtesy of UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley has created a new post called "Vice Chancellor for Real Estate" and filled it with Cal alum Robert Lalanne, founder of the San Francisco real estate development firm, the Lalanne Group, the campus announced Tuesday.

Lalanne "will oversee UC Berkeley’s real estate projects as well as the planning, building and operations of facilities on and off campus," the announcement said.

Lalanne, who graduated from Cal in 1978 with a B.A. in architecture and serves on the Berkeley Foundation Board of Trustees, assumes office on Jan. 13 and will give his salary back to the university, according to the campus announcement.

He will oversee more than 500 employees, and his portfolio apparently will include both the traditional building and construction projects associated with the university's core academic mission and the expanded development roles that the university has undertaken with its properties in the broader community.

"“I look forward to collaborating with faculty, staff, students and fellow alumni as we seek to integrate all of UC Berkeley’s real estate endeavors, and enable the campus to maximize operational efficiencies and net revenue,” he said in a prepared statement.

“My over-arching goal is to generate new resources and support for the public mission and academic programs of one the world’s greatest universities." 

Faced with declining state support for many years, the Berkeley campus in recent years has been exploring sponsorship of commercial development, such as the proposal for 6.3 acres of UC-owned land next to University Village in Albany. 

The proposal – for a Sprouts Farmers Market, 175-unit senior housing complex and two as-yet-unidentified retail developments – won key approval from the Albany Planning and Zoning Commission last week, despite spirited opposition from urban farming advocates who wanted the currently vacant land used for community agriculture.

Lalanne has close ties to the campus in several ways. His parents and two daughters attended Cal, and he has worked closely with the school on matters related to real estate.

A short profile of Lalanne produced last year by UC Berkeley's College of Environmental Design described some of his work for the campus; "Realizing the revenue-generating opportunity Cal possesses in its significant non-academic real-estate holdings, Bob became chair of the UC Berkeley Foundation’s Finance and Administration Committee. He also currently chairs the Real Estate sub-committee which he created and is the first head of the College of Environmental Design (CED) Advisory Council."

The profile also noted that Lalanne and his wife "recently made a generous pledge of $1 million, matched by the Hewlett Foundation, for the creation of the Robert J. and Millicent C. Lalanne Chair in Real Estate Development, Architecture and Urbanism."

Lalanne was appointed to his new post by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, who was quoted in the campus announcement saying he has "been very impressed not just by his professional knowledge and creative thinking, but also by how deeply his ideas and goals are informed by and consistent with our public mission and academic goals.”

Lalanne's extensive professional experience includes having been "a developer of some of the Bay Area’s best-known real estate projects," according the College of Environmental Design profile. "... He has developed over 1,000 housing units in the Bay Area, some of which are anchored by Falletti Foods, Safeway, and Whole Foods."

The campus announcement Tuesday said Lalanne led his company "through the planning and construction of several award-winning developments, including the Portside condominiums along the Embarcadero in San Francisco, the Potrero Center, Falletti Plaza and more than 1,300 multi-family units around the Bay Area. Prior to launching his own company, Lalanne served as project manager for Dinwiddie Construction Company, managing a number of major projects including the Crocker Tower and Galleria and Levi Plaza in San Francisco."

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