tribune tower

Photo: Victor R. Ruiz/Flickr

The Tribune Tower, a 305-foot, 22-story goliath in downtown Oakland, is officially on the market.

The sudden sale comes following accusations leveled at Oakland real estate mogul Tom Henderson, the owner of the building. His former business partner, Allan Young, has alleged that he siphoned millions of dollars from funds meant to create local jobs at call center CallSocket. Legal action was taken, and in April, an Alameda County superior court judge transferred control of the Tribune Tower to court-appointed receiver Susan Uecker.

Marketing materials are forthright about the sale of the tower: “[t]he property is being sold on an ‘as is, where is’ basis. Any sale is subject to Court approval. Seller/Client is a court appointed Receiver.”

According to the San Francisco Business Times, the Tribune Tower will most likely sell for much more than it did in 2011, when Henderson purchased it for around $8 million, or $90 per square foot. Office buildings are now being sold for as much as $300 per square foot, and in March of this year Henderson was able to sell the I. Magnin building, another downtown Oakland property, for nearly double what he paid in 2013.

The building has a long history in Oakland. The base of the building was built in 1906, while the tower, inspired by St. Mark’s Campanile in Venice, Italy, was erected in 1923 with the addition of 16 stories to the original six. The completed tower officially opened on January 1st, 1924 as the stomping grounds for the “Oakland Tribune” newspaper. The paper remained there until the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the building.

While the tower sat dormant, city officials planned for its demolition, but never got around to the task. Then, in 1995, Oakland developer and head of Madison Park Financial John Protopappas purchased it for $300,000, renovated the tower during the late 90s and sold it for approximately $15 million to a Los Angeles attorney, Edward B. Kislinger. After Kislinger defaulted on a $10-million loan, Henderson was the next buyer.

Despite its many different owners, the magic of the tower has been there from the start. In 1923, Harry Houdini captivated an audience below by escaping from a straitjacket while hanging from the building’s ninth floor. He escaped within five seconds, but those five seconds were enough to cast the tower into the national spotlight.

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