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.
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.
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The article also did not touch on all the housing projects that have recently been withdrawn within the city.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.
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.
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.
- 3637 Adeline St. “Adeline Springs” (90 units of supportive housing)
- 3600 San Pablo Ave. “Nellie Hannon Gateway/ECAP” (90 units of supportive housing)
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.