Onni Group “Withdrawals” from Emeryville Tower Project

1 min read

The contentious Onni Tower project that would be the East Bay’s tallest high-rise is apparently no more. Planning & Building Director Charlie Bryant made the announcement at Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting noting that the project had “fallen out of contract” and the application was “deemed withdrawn.”

“They no longer have the owner‘s permission to develop a project on that site,” Bryant noted during his Director’s report.

The project was introduced at the end of 2018 and touched off a fierce debate within the city. Housing advocates welcomed the addition to our area’s housing stock and the inclusionary affordable housing that would come with it. Neighbors mostly bemoaned the traffic bottleneck of the area, that 54-stories was ‘out of scale’ with the rest of the city and the ongoing construction the project would bring.



Council and city staff have been working diligently to revise Emeryville’s building codes that would enable the project to be built. In the past year-plus, the city has modified the tower separation requirements, put forth considerable effort into bird safe building standards and revisited Emeryville’s family-friendly guidelines to allow exemptions for tower projects.

Councilmember John Bauters was particularly exuberant about the project with YIMBY activists (Yes in my back yard) dubbing the project “Mt. Bauters.”

“Their contract with the property owner to purchase the site has expired and has not been renewed,” Bryant noted. On Wednesday, Bryant sent The Onni Group a letter indicating that he had determined that their application is “deemed withdrawn” for this reason. The letter also indicated that Onni was delinquent nearly $56K in planning fees.

“As you have previously been advised, the City had ceased work on your application in any event due to non-payment of costs. Your outstanding invoices for services total $55,670.91,” the letter further states. The entire letter to Onni Development is embedded below.

The E’ville Eye has reached out to representatives of The Onni Group for clarification on if they will appeal this or pursue a new contract with the property owner.

July 27 Update: The contact listed in this letter is no longer employed by The Onni Group and has been removed from the body of this story. “My employment with Onni ended in March,” noted Pitters in an email.

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Rob Arias

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.


  1. The city council is suck a joke. Changing housing laws for special group and then getting foot the bill for planning. I can’t wait to move away from this pathetic city. This pandemic has shown me how poorly this city is ran.

  2. Once again, the perfect is the enemy of the good. Building housing closer to jobs is essential to saving the planet. Let’s hope this is resurrect. Fight on, John B!

  3. Emeryville’s city council and planning commission should learn from this about the power of the public. they totally ignored the residents and the good of the city, where AFFORDABLE housing is needed that synchs with the environmental standards they all like to say they uphold.
    A big time and expensive mistake was avoided. we’re glad elections are soon to come.

  4. I wonder what the council would say if they discovered that the project lapsed because they were seen to be supporting the growing squatter camp on Shellmound St.

    • “Its a regional problem that should be addressed on a regional level.”

      Emeryville’s like this little kid that Oakland and Berkeley push around. We can’t do anything. – Bauters at a town hall

  5. Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

    No super colossal parking and traffic nightmare in my neighborhood. Not to mention 5yrs of construction noise, dirt and closures.

    Sorry to city council for no additional revenues to waste on homeless recruiting and housing.. and needles etc. etc. etc.

  6. In Emeryville, the only way we stumble to a success is through failure. If only we could fail our way to a sane minimum wage as well, but alas.

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