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BioMed Realty Presents Latest Plans for “Emeryville Center of Innovation” Campus Expansion

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The Emeryville Planning Commission met through video conference for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak. The April 23 meeting lasted well over four hours, with a bulk of the time spent conducting a second study session of the planned “Emeryville Center of Innovation.”

The project would add 561,000 square feet of office and research space and over 2000 parking spaces via three separate structures scattered around the 6.31 acre former Novartis campus.

Emeryville Center of Innovation
View from the corner of Hollis & Stanford.

Emeryville Center of Innovation

The plan by San Diego-based BioMed Realty (BMR) calls for the construction of two new multi-tenant R&D buildings and a parking garage on the surface parking areas of the former Novartis campus. BioMed Realty acquired the campus from Novartis last year.

Long-time Emeryville residents may be familiar with the former Chiron Corporation campus on Hollis Street and Stanford Avenue. The current campus now has split ownership, between Grifols and BMR.

Last year, BMR put forward development plans for three structures on its part of the “Emeryville Center of Innovation,” on Chiron Way. The proposed development includes two multi-tenant research and development buildings (seven and 11 floors tall), along with an accompanying parking garage. All three structures are a part of Preliminary Development Plans (PDP) that was originally approved by Emeryville City Council in 1995, when the campus was under Chiron’s tenancy. These three structures are now up for Final Development Plan (FDP) consideration.

The nine level parking garage on Horton would create 2,018 parking spaces.

The FDP application was first reviewed by the Planning Commission in December of last year. At that time, commissioners expressed concerns with how the parking structure would stand in context with nearby residential structures, South Bayfront Pedestrian-Bicycle Bridge, and Horton Landing Park; suggesting that articulation and neighborhood integration was important.

Commissioners had also expressed concerns with the distance of the planned research and development buildings to handicap accessible parking spaces, along with other environmental concerns. Bike lockers, bird safety consideration, and adequate sidewalk widths for pedestrian paths, and a pocket park were a few concerns noted.

BioMed Realty returned on April 24 with proposed changes that would reduce the number of parking spaces in the garage by 382 (to 2,018 spaces), relocate a loading zone, and add accessible parking spaces closer to the proposed research and development buildings. The company also made design changes to the structure that added a pocket park adjacent to the parking garage and highlighted bold design elements. However, it resulted in an additional floor added to the parking garage.

Addressing neighborhood integration concerns, a ground floor retail space was added at the north end of the parking garage, which would face the landing of the South Bayfront Pedestrian-Bicycle Bridge. Further, dedicated bike lanes were proposed starting at Horton and 53rd Street to the parking structure, along with a bicycle fix-it station.

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After receiving a presentation on the design plan changes, commissioners expressed continued concerns around the size of the parking garage in relation to the planned residential building within the Sherwin-Williams complex.

Other concerns included the north-east corner of the parking garage facing the landing of the South Bayfront Pedestrian-Bicycle Bridge, greeting bridge users with a parking garage when they complete their journey on the bridge. It was suggested that the BMR design team take a look at adding public art or other design changes.

The revised BMR plan would break up the “superblock” created by the current fenced in campus.

Another concern expressed involved the use of the parking garage. A suggestion was floated to limit the number of ways cars and enter and exit the garage, to reduce conflicts. Another idea was to investigate whether to reduce the overall number of parking spaces to instead meet anticipated demand (approximately 1,500 spaces).

However, given that the PDP was approved in 1995, requirements around a minimum number required parking spaces were higher at that time and continue to apply today. Commissioners asked that BMR’s design team take into consideration the changed landscape of alternative transportation today, along with the added possibility of an underground parking alternative.

No action was taken, as this was a study session. BMR will appear again in front of the Planning commission for a future study session, with a revised design.

View their complete slide presentation below.

Other Agenda Items:

Adeline Springs (Public Hearing)

Owners of Adeline Springs project (former U.S. Spring building on Adeline and W. MacArthur Blvd) requested an additional one-year extension to their conditional use and design review permits. Commissioners approved the extension.

View the Staff Report on

Public Market (Public Hearing)

Commissioners approved a Master Sign Program for various buildings in the Public Market. The program approved seven types of storefront signs (and various signage sizing) across six parcels in and around the Public Market.

View the Staff Report on

1375 55th Street AKA “Pickleworks” Building (Public Hearing)

Commissioners approved a 455 sq. ft. expansion of an office space on a mezzanine level within the Pickleworks Building. The offices will soon house the law offices of Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld.

View the Staff Report on

Bird-Safe Building Standards (Public Hearing)

Commissioners held a hearing to discuss revisions to the Bird-Safe Building Standards of the Planning Regulations, which was originally enacted to help reduce bird collisions with building glass. The revised standard calls for bird-safe window treatment to be added in certain situations on new construction, window replacement, and glass structures.

The new standards were approved 6-0.

View the Staff Report on

View the complete agenda and related docs on

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Bobby Lee

is a Bay Area native who’s lived in the Christie Core Neighborhood since 2010, Bobby enjoys exploring the far corners of our region, trying the newest restaurants in the area, or relaxing to 80's era television sitcoms and game shows. For the past six years, he's hosted a web video series called 2 Minute Finance teaching basic money management and consumer education.


  1. Interesting how detailed City officials are in studying parking, traffic, egress, and appeal in this proposal and how indifferent they are to those issues in evaluating the towering monstrosity proposed for Powell Street.

  2. Exciting project, especially for a town overly dependent on revenue from retail stores!!

  3. Glad to see development like this but other than the application of glass on the exterior, how do the buildings relate to each other? And as for parking, with the lower amount of parking required under the most recent development standards, allow the excess to be used for public parking. This would help mitigate the parking issue especially where needed.

  4. The addition of all this car traffic on Horton – the only Emeryville street that even nominally passes for a “safe” north-south bike route – is terrifying. With an extra 2000+ cars a day, Horton will become a cycling death trap, and there won’t be a single reasonable north-south bike route in the entire city. This is even worse when taking into account Adeline and Market have completely non-congruent alignments for accessing many important locations. One of Shellmound (north of Ikea), Horton, or Hollis needs protected bike lanes in short order.

    • A bike registration fee / miles travelled fee should be charged to buy back the portion of the street.

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