AvalonBay proposing 94ft./260-Unit rental development at Nady Systems site

Published On December 10, 2013 | By Rob Arias | News & Commentary, Planning & Development

Developers will present preliminary designs for a 260 unit, 6-level, 3,000 square feet Multi-Family housing project to the Planning Commission at City Hall this Thursday. Adjacent to Ex’pression college and home to the decrepit Nady Systems building, it’s an area of town with a lot of potential that could use some attention. Located at 6701 Shellmound, the site is a about a 1/4 mile between the Public Market and the Berkeley Aquatic Park. For some E’villains, the northern on-ramp to Highway 80 is best known for having the worst road conditions in the area and home to a historic Gay “Cruising” spot (4+ stars with a crowd of “Cal studs, late night workers & tweekers” according to cruisinggays.com).

The Nady Systems building was the manufacturing warehouse of high-end audio equipment. It’s unclear what the neglected, cluttered, graffiti covered Nady Systems building that straddles the Emeryville/Berkeley border currently exists for besides collecting blight. John Nady was a pioneer in wireless audio and “introduced the concept of wireless technology to many of the biggest name headliners at that time including Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Styx, Neil Young…and the Rolling Stones”. Nady’s company had a near monopoly on wireless systems in the ’80s but moved manufacturing (like many American Companies) to China to gain a competitive pricing advantage. In 1996, Nady Systems was recognized for its contributions with an Emmy for Outstanding Technical Achievement. The wealthy entrepreneur and his Emeryville office was subject to a 2011 protest by Native American rights activists for his attempting to build vacation homes on Rattlesnake island, located on the eastern end of Clear Lake. Activists have called for a complete boycott of Nady’s products.

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The Emeryville BPAC is already suggesting public benefits including road improvements on the stretch of road adjacent park that would improve pedestrian and bicycle access and hopefully make the park more inviting and accessible to families that have been driven away by its seedy reputation. The preliminary drawings of the proposed development by MBH Architects seem to meet the Emeryville “Template” of the last decade: Tri-colored, Boxy … and 100% rental. The unit would tower above the adjacent with a height of 94 ft. Amenities for the project being include a roof terrace, fitness center, bike repair and dog wash facility. The street-level retail area is hoping to attract a cafe (deja vu!) or another business that can leverage its proximity to the Aquatic Park. The development will include three levels of parking including one below grade and will be fenced off from the surrounding area.

The Entire Planning Commission Study Session can be watched on the EPOA YouTube Channel:

Concerned neighbors should voice their concerns to the Emeryville Planning Commission:

Lawrence C. “Buzz” Cardoza (Chair)
Sean Moss (Vice Chair)
Gail Donaldson
Brad Gunkel
Steven Keller
Vanessa Kuemmerle
Kairee Tann

About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

10 Responses to AvalonBay proposing 94ft./260-Unit rental development at Nady Systems site

  1. whitandphilWhitney says:

    I would argue that the majority of units within a 5-10 block radius of here are actually condo/townhomes and are owner occupied. We live off of 65th st and the developments by us (with the exception of the Courtyards at 65th) are all owned, with a small % rented out by owner. Several of the large developments, especially the recently built ones, on the Shelmound side of the tracks are also condos, not rentals. Off the top of my head, I can count more than half of the developments in Emeryville over the last 10 years that have been to buy – not to rent. I think it’s pretty unfair to hate on the renters! As a home owner in Emeryville, I see a really strong owner community that isn’t threatened by this development. And seriously – anything is better than the pothole-filled street lined with graffiti-covered buildings! We walk our dog in Aquatic Park regularly, and bemoan the wasted potential of that area. Hopefully this will kick-start some pressure to revamp it!

    • Rob says:

      Numbers don’t lie Whit&Phil. Emeryville is 66% rentals with EVERY major development happening slated for rental according to Charlie Bryant the city’s planning & Building director. (including this, Parkside, Maz & Sherwin-Willaims). This is not an attack on renters but on Corporations that build exclusively rental developments in our town and could care less about our community.

  2. Whitney says:

    Again, as a homeowner in north Emeryville, I will tell you that our entire neighborhood, from the northern border with Berkeley, down to the southern end of the Greenway, out to Hollis – all owner development in the last 10 years. HUGE part of E-ville. The townhomes across the street from the new Powell and Hollis rental devo? All owned. All built within the last 10 years. If you’re going to claim that Emeryville has been almost exclusively developed for rentals in the last decade, you need to do a little more research (speaking from someone currently owns a 4-year-old townhome who did extensive market research when they bought here last year). There are two more developments being built in Eville right now that you haven’t listed – both of those are for sale, not for rent. At the very least, you could provide context as to how that rental % breaks down vs other cities in the region.

    • Rob says:

      Thanks Whitney. Apparently you know more than our planning Director whom I got those numbers from. What are the two developments you refer to? Are they “significant” (Like more than 50 units?
      I don’t see how your “neighborhood” apply’s to the whole of Emeryville. We’re 1.2 sq. miles. We are effectively one neighborhood (maybe 2 if you consider East & West Emeryville divided by the RXR tracks)
      You want the national breakdowns? 62% of people own their own home (down from a high of 71% before the 2007 recession). Thanks for chiming in though. This is the dialogue this city needs.

  3. arianachan says:

    As an Emeryville resident who drive by this corner almost every day, I really hope this redevelopment will happen – doesn’t matter whether it’s going to be apartments, condos, offices or hotels. This location is very challenging – a triangular site, very end/edge of the city, noise from freeway and Amtrak, bad conditions on and off ramp to 80, lack of a safe pedestrian walkway to Aquatic Park etc… I hope Avalon hasn’t been scared away by comments from Planning Commission and quit.

    • Rob says:

      Maybe “something is better than nothing” here but I think the additional traffic headaches that this would cause are worth giving something back to the community. Now is the time to ask!

      • arianachan says:

        I’m not sure are those streets and areas belong to City of Emeryville or Oakland or even CalTrans and that is the reason why no one seems to ever take good care of them. Will planning commission know?

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