Pegitboard News

Berkeley Bowl seeks to expand, evict 70-year-old neighbor business. Lawsuit ensues.

Berkeley Bowl seeks to expand, evict 70-year-old neighbor business. Lawsuit ensues.

There’s turmoil surrounding the East Bay growth of one of Berkeley’s most popular independent supermarkets.

According to a lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court last November, Berkeley Bowl is being sued by the owners of a 70-year-old, family-owned metal anodizing business in Emeryville called Metalco for breach of contract, misrepresentation and violating California business practices, among other actions. The suit stems from Berkeley Bowl’s 2017 purchase of 1475 67th St., Metalco’s place of business since 1946, for an unspecified project.

Berkeley Bowl did not respond to Chronicle requests for comments.

In court documents, Metalco alleges Berkeley Bowl coerced its former landlord, a defendant in the suit listed as Corder Family Emeryville Properties, not to extend its lease before the transaction to keep from inheriting a tenant. After obtaining the property, Berkeley Bowl declined to negotiate a new lease and demanded the business vacate the premises, Metalco alleges in the filing.

In August, Berkeley Bowl sent a letter to Metalco stating its lease would end on Nov. 30 and the business would “need to remove by November 30, 2017, all machinery and equipment ... and return the premises to the condition of general industrial use.”

Metalco alleges its lease with its previous landlords required any new property owner, which in this case is Berkeley Bowl, at least allow them to negotiate for a new lease, which they say Berkeley Bowl did not. Metalco in the lawsuit is seeking damages in an amount exceeding $5 million should they be evicted from their 67th Street space.

“Honestly, there’s no moving Metalco, not without a lot of time, which they didn’t give us, and a lot of money, which we don’t have. There’s environmental permitting, engineering, finding a property,” said Metalco CEO Bill Beard. He said the building from which he’s being evicted was built specifically for Metalco, including concrete tubs in the floor to accommodate the process of metal anodizing.

Before Beard’s former landlords accepted Berkeley Bowl’s offer on the property, which he said was around $25 million, the Metalco owner said he and several other tenants of properties run by Corder Family Emeryville Properties submitted offers to buy several lots, including Metalco’s 1475 67th St. address. All of the offers were declined, Beard said.

“Berkeley Bowl is focused on whatever is better for them financially. For them, if they destroy a business that has been here for 70 years, then so be it,” Beard said. “Evicting us is basically a shot to the head for the business.”

Justin Phillips is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @JustMrPhillips