BART Board approves $227 million purchase and renovation of new HQ building

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- To BART board president Bevan Dufty, it just makes good economic sense. In an 8-to-1 vote, BART directors approved the purchase and renovation of a building in downtown Oakland, a $227 million project that would become the district's new headquarters in 2021.

"Staying here is really not an option because it would become much more expensive," said Dufty. "We have the ability to purchase this building and have an asset. We're going to paying not just toward burning money on rent. We're going to have a building at 2150 Webster that's going to be a better place for the public to go. It's going to be very accessible."

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Dufty says the purchase would save BART $210 million over the next 25 years as the cost of leasing the current location is set to go up 60 percent. The Webster project will be financed by a 25-year sales tax bond.

"In that future that sales tax revenue will already be borrowed out," explained BART director Debora Allen, the lone boardmember to vote against the project.

"I think that we could reduce that cost substantially moving a little further out of the Oakland area. We do not need to be in Class A office space for BART," said Allen.

Some riders believe BART directors should focus their attention on fixing what's wrong with the transit system, not on the purchase of a new headquarters building.

"I'd rather they invested in security," said rider Rohnda Malmstrom outside the west Oakland station. "There's too many people who are able to not pay their fare and then there's security issues, and then there's the people they hire and pay too much salary. It's crazy. I don't know that the building's the best answer."

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