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October Planning Commission Recap: Sherwin-Williams Final Development Plan, Adeline Springs Project Updates

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The October 25th Planning Commission meeting involved discussions on several ongoing projects in our city. The biggest agenda item was the final development plan study session for the architecture and park space of the massive Sherwin Williams project. In addition, the Commission discussed updates to the US Spring building ‘Adeline Springs’ development which is being considered at 3637 Adeline Street.

Director’s Report:

  • At the October 3rd council meeting, the City Council adopted several resolutions involving homelessness in our City. One idea being considered is a low-income housing project that would be located in downtown Berkeley. Emeryville, along with other neighboring cities would help Berkeley fund the project. The Council will review further after additional analysis is performed.
  • The City Council also approved a new Ford GoBike dock on the south-side of 47th street, east of San Pablo Avenue.
  • The Planning Commission proposed a special session in December due to the full agenda anticipated for its last scheduled meeting on December 14th.
  • The Commission was presented an update on the City’s Hazard Mitigation Plan that is mandated by the Federal Government

Study Session: Sherwin-Williams Architectural Final Development Plan

The Commission held its third study session to review and comment on the final development plan for the Sherwin-Williams development. The Preliminary Development Plan for the project was approved by Council a year ago.

For a quick recap, the development has been in progress for nearly a decade, and will include up to 500 residential units, 85 of which will be designated ‘affordable’ and 50% will be designated family-friendly. A main draw to the project is the space that will be open to the general public. This includes a proposed 18,000 square feet of office space and 2,000-8,000 square feet of ground floor retail/restaurant space. It also includes the 3.53 combined acres of open space area on the City-owned land and in four “park open space” parcels expansion of the Emeryville Greenway to connect to the planned South Bayfront bike and pedestrian bridge to Bay Street. A more detailed recap on the history of this project can be found in our January and April recaps.

At the last study session that the Commission held in April, there was an emphasis put on making the development more accessible to the general public. Feedback from the Commission included a unanimous agreement on the need to activate the ground level, with at least 8,000 square feet of retail. It was also suggested to consider making the proposed resident amenities including a co-working space, dog “spa” and bike repair facility open and accessible to the public.

One of the biggest updates this time around to the design plan was the focus on incorporating elements into the design that meet the Family-Friendly Design Guidelines. To promote multi-family residential development suitable for family occupancy, Emeryville adopted regulations that requiring a minimum of 50 percent of units in new residential projects be family-friendly 2 or 3 bedroom units with a minimum of 15 percent of units being 3 or more bedrooms.

These family-friendly guidelines are relatively new to the City, but are becoming a popular element of new construction in large urban areas. The idea behind the guidelines is to incorporate design elements that benefit the family unit and encourage families to remain in the units longer. Elements can include larger living and dining areas for families to grow into, sound proofing to help minimize disturbance to neighboring units, and providing building and open space configurations and connections that promote use by different age groups and observation of children’s play.

The latest Lennar 3-D Fly-through rendering showcases the building massing and park amenities.

As detailed in the graph above, the design incorporates a number of these elements. The developer’s representative, Kevin Ma, elaborated on additional amenities that could be incorporated into the final design, including vaulted ceilings and larger terraces, which would be beneficial to families moving into the units and help the project meet the scoring criteria, “We’ve gotten to a place where we have gotten very close to meeting the intent of the scoring system and the guidelines.”

In addition to the family friendly components, the developer updated the configuration of the buildings, including reducing the number of units in building B1 from 74 to 64 and Increasing the units in Building B2 from 122 to 130. Building C has got a face lift and was Reconfigured from a “C” shape to an “E” shape, which resulted in a reduction of the units from 131-122.

Overall the Commission was complimentary to the updates and appreciated the work that had gone into developing the space, as evidenced by Commissioner Keller:

First I just want to congratulate everyone involved in the project, Lennar and the community have done a really great job of partnering and coming up with a really good plan…evolving in the right direction. Overall the architectural concepts… I think they are all very well designed for what the intent was and how we divided the neighborhood.”

However, Keller did have concerns that the space being opened up to the general public wasn’t going to be enough:

“I think it’s been made clear that I don’t think the 2,000 sq ft of commercial space is enough… I just feel the two café areas and the {art] gallery are not enough for me… I am looking for a neighborhood that, other than a park, why would I come to this if I don’t live there, and I just don’t see enough to attract people to come to this neighborhood and it’s really going to be a dynamic neighborhood.”

Commissioner Barrera also approved of the way the new development meshes with the surrounding historical architecture:

I feel these buildings relate very well to a lot of the buildings on the historic district on Park Avenue here in Emeryville and it’s a really great continuation of some of the architecture.”

Next steps for the development include another study session in December with an eye for building approval in February of next year.

View the Entire Staff Report
Watch the staff presentation and subsequent commission discussion above at 26:55.

Study Session: Sherwin-Williams Public Park and Open Space Final Development Plan

The Commission last reviewed these plans during their April meeting, and while they were on board with the general layout of the park being split into four “districts”, they requested more details on the amenities included the play structures, benches and other design elements. In addition, there was some concern with the design of the bicycle/pedestrian path connecting Horton and Hubbard streets due to its curved nature.

The final details show a park and open space that has something for everyone. For kids there are a diverse set of play structures and areas to run and play on. For adults there will be activity equipment, running paths and large areas to enjoy a book and a picnic. In addition, the development team incorporated the Commission’s comments and the design plan includes a straightened out bicycle/pedestrian path. In addition, and as s a result of discussions with the community and organizations like the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), the bike share station was moved and now located along Horton Street, adjacent to the Rifkin lot, and the overall design with include 224 bike parking spots.

The Commission seemed happy with the thought and detail that has gone into the design of the park. Commissioner Keller approved of almost all of the amenities and design elements, including the play structure for the kids:

I love the different play structures. I don’t even have kids… but I really think the different type of play structures are really cool… it’s different from what you see in other City parks and we have a really creative community here and I think it plays into that.”

The Commission did provide some additional suggestions, including the possibility of a full basketball court instead of just a half, which is proposed in the current design. Commissioner Guerrero discussed the need for an area like that where everyone can come and get a work out:

Right now it’s half of a court, and here in the City I am dying to have a place where I can play a game of basketball and there is no space for that right now.”

In addition, Guerrero cautioned the developer from over vegetating the park and creating issues for the users:

space should be used for pedestrians and the shrubs don’t overgrow into the pedestrian space and take up more of that.”

Additionally, the issue of making sure the park was inclusive of Emeryville’s history was brought up by Commissioner Barrera:

one of the inspirations has been the railroad and how that helped evolve Emeryville and make it into the industrial community it was in the beginning.. like to see a space open up so people can take a look and appreciate the trains passing by.”

Following the study session, the updated plans will be reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Department on November 15th followed by another study session held by the City Council on November 21st.

View the Entire Staff Report
Watch the staff presentation and subsequent commission discussion above at 2:01:00.

Study Session: Adeline Springs

The final study session solicited comments on a Conditional Use Permit and Design Review application for the Adeline Springs development which was covered in out July Recap. The plan is to demolish the existing 5,866 square foot building and construct a new, five story building that will accommodate 29 rental residential units and 4 to 6 live/work units on a 12,528 square foot parcel located at 3637 Adeline Street or the “star intersection” corner of Adeline and West MacArthur behind Lanesplitter Pizza and the former Scend’s Bar & Grill.

At their July meeting, the Commission reviewed the project and generally agreed that the proposal was a good start, but asked the developer to review several issues, including the massing of the building and the wooden batten sidings.

Updates that were provided to the Commission included an updated massing design and the removal of the proposed wooden battens, which will be replaced by corrugated steel panels. In addition, the developer incorporated the Commission’s concerns about the walk-ability around the development and is proposing wider sidewalks. The Commissioner  liked the updates but voiced the need for additional information and analysis.

In addition to the design update, the Commission commented on their preference for how the developer should account for the bonus points needed for the current design. Two popular ideas include under grounding the electrical lines or widening the sidewalks.

While both would be great, Commissioner Thompson argued for the sidewalk upgrade given the location:

specifically because this is an urban building and this is an urban response, and from a day-to-day response, day-to-day use, the sidewalk will really have value… we don’t have a lot of parking, so we are encouraging biking so it meets a need too. To have an urban place you can remove around in.”

View the Entire Staff Report
Watch the staff presentation and subsequent commission discussion above at 3:00:00.

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Christopher Bennett

was born and raised in the north bay and now lives on the Emeryville/Oakland border in the Longfellow neighborhood with his wife and two cats (Sherlock and Watson). When he's not writing, Chris works as an attorney who assist engineers and professional consultants navigate their contracts and related business issues.

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