Emeryville’s Housing Pipeline Closing? 1,193 Units Withdrawn Since Beginning of Pandemic

Published On December 19, 2021 | By Rob Arias | Affordable Housing, News & Commentary, Planning & Development

The City of Emeryville and its leaders were recently profiled by The SF Chronicle for their ambitious housing creation goals. According to the piece, the city is seeking to qualify as a “prohousing city” by exceeding its state-mandated RHNA goals of 1,800 units by 50% (an ambitious 2,700 units).

How the city intends on satisfying this 10 year goal is unclear.

Emeryville’s RHNA allocations note the goal of creating 1,815 units with 1,018 intending to be below market rate.

The City’s latest Major Projects report lists less than 1000 units in the pipeline with a vast majority of those coming from The Emery (500 units) and The Bayview projects (186 units).

Planning for The Emery project goes all the way back to 2006 when the Sherwin-Williams paint factory closed (approved in 2016). The Bayview project goes back to 2013 when it was the Nady building.

With the recent completion of The Intersection Project on San Pablo Avenue, these are the only two significant housing projects currently under construction within the city.

The City’s Major project report details current projects within the city (most being small unit conversions).

Emeryville Housing Pipeline Closing Up?

The article also did not touch on all the housing projects that have recently been withdrawn within the city. The Onni Tower Project (638 units), 58Fifty Shellmound (244 units) the Atrium project (144 units) and now The Marketplace Parcel A (167 units) have all recently moved to withdraw their plans.

These projects represent a combined 1,193 units pulled by developers since the pandemic began.

Why so many developers are dropping plans for housing in the city is not clear but in the case of the 58Fifty, who are shifting to a commercial project, they cited high construction costs, a lack of interest by their capital partners and “concerns around future rental controls in the State of California” in the City Progress Staff Report (pg. 22).

The Marketplace Parcels A & B were originally approved to include 185 total units (167 market rate and 18 affordable) as well as parking and retail. The developers are now looking to eliminate the original housing plans and instead build 406,178 sq. ft. of R&D space and 833 parking spaces. The 18 affordable units that they are committed to would now come as a standalone affordable project instead of being dispersed throughout the larger project.

“If you look at the cost to build relative to rents, the returns would basically be close to zero,” noted CCRP President Mark Stefan at the October 28th Planning Commission meeting when prompted about their decision not to pursue housing. “Avalon Bay has as much experience in the real world building apartments, they dropped out.” Stefan pointed to the spike in the cost of building materials as a contributor to the high construction costs.


ADVERTISEMENT
“ee-sq-ad”

Longfellow Real Estate Partners formerly withdrew its proposed 750,000-square-foot, 16-story mixed-use Atrium project in October (reported by SF Business Times).

The Onni Tower project was withdrawn shortly after the pandemic began. Another developer has recently acquired the Bay Bridge Center with the intent of building a “mixed-use” project although these plans have not been formerly submitted.

The Adeline Springs and ECAP projects represent 180 supportive housing units.

Most Current Projects slated for Standalone Affordable Housing

The city does have plans in place for more standalone affordable housing mostly clustered along San Pablo Avenue near the Southern Oakland border . A majority of the balance of the estimated 1000 in-progress units would come from two supportive housing projects.

The City has indicated that it may prefer a monetary contribution to the City’s affordable housing fund in lieu of building the aforementioned 18-unit standalone Marketplace complex. This contribution could bolster the city’s coffers to build more affordable units.

Download the final 2023-2031 RHNA Plan for the SF Bay Area [PDF]

About The Author

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.

3 Responses to Emeryville’s Housing Pipeline Closing? 1,193 Units Withdrawn Since Beginning of Pandemic

  1. Anonymous says:

    Interesting. I follow Bauters on Twitter and it is literally one continuous thread of his accomplishments mixed with virtue signaling. I suspected these were hollow (like him).

  2. Ben says:

    Thank you for this reporting! It’s frustrating seeing leaders take victory laps while not walking the walk.

    The Public Market Parcel A project is particularly frustrating. The developer decided to convert 160+ homes into 800+ parking spots, and Emeryville staff greenlit the project without much hesitation.

Leave a Reply