Sherwin-Williams Park: An opportunity to Celebrate Emeryville’s Rich History

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Lennar Multifamily will be hosting a community meeting tonight at the ECCL to solicit ideas for the Sherwin-Williams park space as part of a negotiated agreement by PARC. 3.5 acres of the 10 acre project are slated for parks and trails with roughly two of these acres dedicated to a large park facing the Blue Star Corner townhomes.

The park will not only lessen our city’s dearth of park space, but improve the connectivity of our town by extending the Greenway and providing a vital East/West pedestrian connection when the South Bayfront bridge to Bay Street breaks ground late next year. The park also presents an amazing opportunity to honor our fascinating past and heritage as a city. Whatever we do with the space, we’d be remiss if we didn’t celebrate the rich history of the Park Avenue District.

2016 Approved Plan
Two acres of park space is bordered by RXR tracks to the West and Blue Star Corner to the South.

First – A Brief History Lesson

The site of the park was of course the Sherwin-Williams Paint Factory built in 1919 and shuttered in 2006. Prior to this, it was Oakland Trotting Park built in 1871 by Connecticut native Edward Wiard (Emeryville wasn’t incorporated as its own city until 1896). The mile long racetrack hosted wagering on both thoroughbred and harness horse races. The track was the site of many famous African-American jockeys and was even visited by President Ulysses S. Grant according to The Emeryville Historical Society. State Legislation led to the eventual closing of the racetrack in 1911.

Wiard (incorrectly spelled “Weird” in the below 1878 from mapsofthepast.com), also developed the nearby Shell Mound Amusement Park that of course references the former Ohlone archaeological site.

Before the Sherwin-Williams factory, the space was Oakland Trotting Park (source: mapsofthepast.com)

City identifies need for more Park Space

The city took on the ambitious task of developing a Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan in 2009. Based on community input, four key activities were selected that should be included in one form or another at each Emeryville park site:

  • Play for Children
  • Socializing and Relaxing
  • Picnicking/Lunch
  • Respite and Solitude

An audit of our city’s existing Parks & Recreation sites produced this list (does not include The Joseph Emery Skate Park or account for the soon to be expanded Christie Avenue Park):


This inventory map includes areas that are targeted for open-space including the PG&E site on Hollis and the potential expansion of Doyle-Hollis Park:

Emeryville’s existing and proposed parks & bicycle boulevards.

Which Amenities are appropriate for this site?

Early in the planning stages, the space was slated to be a dog park when the city had none. The city now has two and a third in the works with the approval of the “Halleck-Beach” dog park. It also seems apparent to me that just creating open space may not necessarily be a draw. I pass the “Hollis Green” park in front of Novartis almost daily and rarely do I see anyone there. It’s beautifully groomed, but without any amenities, it rarely gets used.

Which amenities are appropriate for this site will be an important decision. A children’s play structure is a given considering the city’s mission to draw families. Our Doyle Street Community Garden has a three-year wait list so this might also be a popular choice. Neighbors I’ve personally spoke with are sensitive to anything that would draw more vehicles into the already congested area so this would probably preclude having any sports facilities.

Whatever we decide on as a community, it will be an interesting process to witness unfold and I eagerly await to hear the creative ideas that will be brought forth. When complete, it will be the city’s second largest park after Marina Park.
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Meeting Details:

Date: Tuesday, December 13th
Time: 6:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: Emeryville Center of Community Life (ECCL)
4727 San Pablo Ave, Building A100
Light refreshments will be provided

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.


  1. Remember, if not careful, any space dedicated to a specific use can be space that is kept from being used for something else. I would be biased toward the people deciding, day to day, what they want to use the space for, rather than the city segmenting our hard-won open space into special uses, and taking away the openness. Hollis Green park is not a useful example, since no one lives nearby (it is seen as a visual, not a useable space), and besides it is is over-watered and soggy.

    See you tonight!

  2. The South Bayfront Bridge is on track to break ground late next year? That’s great to hear. I hadn’t been able to find any information or updates about that since the redevelopment lawsuit went well for the city.

  3. How about using the extra space for an authorized and semi-permanent homeless encampment? If the homelessness problem is resolved, then the space can evolve into a park but for now, use it for what’s really needed.

    Given Emeryville is a progressive city, let’s walk the walk. I’ve heard a lot of support for homeless encampments from the neighbors in that area, so I think it would be highly supported. I think some of the council members who are very active in the fight against homelessness live nearby as well so they would be supportive I’m sure.

    Can a progressive city really be thinking about putting in tennis and bocci courts when there are hundreds of people living under a bridge a quarter mile away? It’s really an ideal location for homeless services and support given the large homeless encampments nearby and the proximity to social services on San Pablo.

    I’m sure people will find a dozen reasons to NIMBY it, but actions speak volumes. Let’s show what we are made of and make Emeryville an example of a truly compassionate city that is genuinely focused on the biggest problem we face today.


  4. I am fairly certain that no developer is going to plan a semipermanent homeless encampment in the open space of property intended for rental or lease. Not even in Emeryville.

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