Depression-era commercial building in Palo Alto fetches $17M

Price for 14K sf brick building comes out to $1,194 per foot.

Baskin Investment Group's Bryan Baskin with 384 University Ave (LinkedIn, Getty)
Baskin Investment Group's Bryan Baskin with 384 University Ave (LinkedIn, Getty)

A local investor has bought a Depression-era commercial building in Downtown Palo Alto for $17.2 million.

An affiliate of Big Property Ventures, based in San Carlos, purchased the two-story brick building at 384 University Avenue, SiliconValley.com reported. The seller was Rapp Development, based in Palo Alto.

The price came out to $1,194 per square foot.

The 14,400-square-foot brick building, built in 1938, sits next to Waverly Street in a busy section of Downtown. It’s now home to Chico’s, a women’s clothing merchant, and Letter Perfect, an eco-conscious stationery store.

Rapp bought the curbside property once known as the Decker Oaks building in 1983, then conducted a historic renovation. Its principal executives include Roxy Rapp and Chase Rapp.

Its new owner, a unit of Big Property Ventures, is affiliated with Baskin Investment Group, a private equity firm based in San Bruno. Its principal leaders include Bryan Baskin, its CEO, and Brooks Baskin and Jim Baskin.

“Our principals bring extensive local market knowledge and a passion for developing properties that transform communities,” the Baskin firm said on its website,

The purchase may indicate a turnaround in certain downtown retail markets in Silicon Valley hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, a local investor paid $10 million in cash for a renovated building in Downtown Palo Alto, occupied by an outgoing Restoration Hardware store. Peter Pau, founder of Sand Hill Property, bought the 15,000-square-foot building at 281 University Avenue for $667 per square foot.

Dana Bartholomew