Emeryville Center for the Arts – Dream Becoming a Reality?

Published On September 20, 2011 | By Rob Arias | Arts & Culture, In the Neighborhood, News & Commentary, Planning & Development

What is the heart of the city of Emeryville? Non-Residents might say Bay Street but I shudder to think that a mall could satisfy this important role. The sad truth is that I can’t think of anything that I would consider the cultural epicenter of our city. Former EWL Resident Sheila Bergman, the Executive Director of the ECA committee, is working to change that. Last Tuesday at city hall, Sheila and Jensen Architects revealed the latest round of renderings & blueprints of the proposed structure and hosted a presentation/Q&A.

The 31,000 sq. ft structure on the corner of 40th & Hollis would feature a 9,000 sq. ft. Gallery space, 240 seat capacity theatre, cafe, courtyard and a corner “Vitrine” that would display works viewable from the street to passerby’s on the much traveled 40th St. The space would feature both performing and visual arts and function as an event space for the city & private events. Jensen Architects was selected amongst a pool of six bay area firms to design the space through a selection process. Among their recent works are the recently renovated SFMOMA roof deck and the CCA graduate center.

A large decision looms that could determine the fate of the ECA as a State Supreme Court decision on the fate of Redevelopment Agencies is expected to be handed down in January. Governor Jerry Brown has proposed eliminating Redevelopment agencies to accommodate our state budget shortfalls amid accusations of wasteful spending. Ironically, Jerry Brown used redevelopment money to fund the construction of the Fox theatre that many have attributed for the revitalization of Downtown Oakland when he was mayor from 1999-2007. Most of the budgeted 13.5MM budget for construction of the ECA would rely on Redevelopment funds while a portion would come from private corporate sources such as Pixar and PG&E.

If the redevelopment money comes through, construction would begin in mid-2012 and the 18-month construction process would have the facility slated to open in late 2013/early 2014.

For more information or to make a donation, visit the ECA website, or the E’ville Arts blog.

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.

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