After a marathon five-hour December meeting, the Planning Commission welcomed 2019 with a ‘lighter’ agenda that included a single Public Hearing. Staff presented revised plans for “Parcel B” of the Marketplace redevelopment that would increase the scope of the project from three to eight stories.
- At their December 18th City Council meeting, Council approved the conceptual plans for the redesign of 40th street. Plans include a two-way bike way on the north side of the street and two bus-only lanes, one on each side. City staff will now prepare traffic and a detailed costs analysis.
- At their January 15th meeting, the City Council approved a one-year extension for the Doyle Street Mews project.
- City Council authorized the City Manager to negotiate an agreement with Union Pacific Railroad for an easement needed for the construction of the South Bayfront bicycle/pedestrian bridge.
- The City Council directed that an ordinance be prepared to amend the City’s cannabis regulations to allow for products to be viewable from the public right-a-way, which is currently prohibited.
Public Hearing: Updated Final Development Plan for “Parcel B” of the Marketplace Redevelopment
As a general recap, the City Council approved the marketplace redevelopment PUD/PDP back in 2008. Parcel C1, which included the grocery store space, realignment of Shellmound and creation of new streets at 62nd & 63rd, are complete. Two residential buildings (Parcel C2 and Parcel D) are currently under construction.
The existing FDP for Parcel B, which included two levels of parking and ground floor retail, was approved back in June, 2016. This new parking garage and the grocery lot would eventually replace all existing surface lots. It is for this reason that the residential building on Parcel A cannot begin until Parcel B has been completed.
The originally approved FDP for the building included 26,000 square feet of retail space and 300 parking spaces. City Center Realty Partners’s (CCRP) new plan calls for a 113 foot, eight-story building that includes 15,800 square feet of ground floor retail, four levels of parking (560 spaces) and three levels/150,000 sq. ft. of office space.
The Planning Commission held an initial study session on this new proposal at the December 13, 2018 meeting.
CCRP President Mark Stefan noted an updated FDP was necessitated by a volatile retail environment and high construction costs that would make the original FDP unfeasible. With that said, Mr. Stefan added that he believes the updated design fits in perfectly with what the City of Emeryville is trying to accomplish in its General Plan,
“I think the design that we presented is very much in keeping with the contextual nature of Emeryville in terms of, we think it hearkens back to its industrial past and does a very good job at presenting that.”
In addition, the developer proposed to include large art installations on both the west and east facing sides. These have been reviewed by the Public Art Committee, who has proposed approval of the Public Art Final Plan that would allocate $1 million for the west and east elevations.
The Public Art Committee has selected several finalist for the art project, including internationally recognized artists like Christian Moller, Mark Regelman and Erwin Redl. Three finalists will be selected, and they will produce site-specific proposals to be reviewed and selected by the developer.
Several members of the public were in attendance for the meeting including some Chef/Owners of the food hall. Geoff Sears, a partner at Wareham Development who developed the neighboring EmeryStation West ‘Transit Center’, voiced a concern that the updated design might takeaway from the unity the project is trying to achieve.
“We are all for more density at the Marketplace, we like that it’s evolving as a center of gravity… but we also think it matters a great deal how that density is deployed in the urban fabric to let these two important centers connect to one another. We are concerned that the major changes we see, the building getting much longer, thus narrowing the gap between it and the previously approved Parcel A, really eliminates a really key visual connection between these two big centers of gravity.”
Jake Freed, owner of Shiba Ramen and The Periodic Table, voiced his opinion that this updated design is not only good, but needed for the longterm viability of his and other local restaurants,
“I own two business in Public Market. My restaurant Shiba Ramen was the first new business to open in the redeveloped food hall three years ago. We had a good experience and my family decided to double down and invest again and build a tap-room that we opened last year. We are excited about this building and we want to support it…For [all the restaurants in this space] to be viable, to succeed and thrive here, we need more density, we need it soon… [the updated Parcel B plan] bringing in 750 science, life science, tech workers into this space that will regularly frequent the community we are trying to foster, to build, is critical for us.”
The Commission, while generally supportive of the update, had a few concerns. Commissioner Thomson was concerned that the building size and massing could cause shadowing issues for those walking by the storefronts,
“the question about shadows, and how to assess their impact on the public realm… I loved to hear more about the number of hours that the public realm gets sunlight. The reason I want that information is there is a narrative going around about how wonderful it is walking down the street. If it’s cold and windy and dark, I am not sure, and I need more evidence.”
Commissioner Donaldson agreed with Commissioner Thomson, and also voiced her displeasure that the north and south sides of the building would not have any form of art work or screening,
“I am still concerned with the bulk of the building… I am really excited about the art. I think the uses are appropriate. I think there should be more consideration given to lighting the building up just to get some more reflective light down there….but my major concern… Parcel A is residential with a whole slue of residents with balconies facing [ parcel B].. and I feel strongly that side should have some screening treatment on the north side and on the south side.”
Commissioner Keller voiced his approval of the updated design,
“It is my deepest belief that the success of the entire marketplace development and the neighborhood and the success of our city hinges on the sum of the parts of this development…I believe that what is being proposed is the right thing, the right mix.”
In addition, he offered up a rebuttal to the points Mr. Sears made about the updated design and potential issues,
“what we are going to have is an open south exposed, day-lighted pathway.”
Keller finished by stating that the inclusion of office space is welcomed and will help contribute to the viability of the redevelopment project,
“I wasn’t too happy with the loss of the commercial space that we are going to have in the original PUD, so with this plan I am very happy to see the commercial space return.”
After discussions the Commission unanimously approved the updated FDP with a conditional requirement that the north and south ends include some form of screens that could integrate with the Public Art on the west and east sides.
Read the full staff report or watch the discussion at [11:05].