September Planning Commission Recap: Proposed 259 Unit Development at 5850 Shellmound, Doyle St. Mews Update

Published On October 6, 2017 | By Christopher Bennett | Development, News & Commentary

The September 27th Planning Commission saw two developments on the agenda. One being an update to the “Doyle Street Mews” project that was previously reviewed in the July recap, and a new development located at 5850 Shellmound Way near the Public Market. This 259 unit development would be addition to the Public Market’s planned 389 units. The Ocean View Townhomes study session was postponed to a later date.

Director’s Report:

  • At their September 5th meeting, the City Council adopted regulations governing issuance of dispensary retail permits for cannabis businesses
  • The City Council also contracted with a consulting firm to update the City’s parking plan, which is the first step to implement city-wide parking meters
  • At their September 19th meeting, the City Council requested a review of the City’s fee schedule for licensed use of public poles. This is in connection with the proposed attachment of antennas to light poles in the City in order to increase signal strength for some cellular users as covered in the August recap.
  • City Council revoked a noise waiver permit that was granted to the construction being performed on the weekends at Public Market due to construction beginning before the 10 am start time that was agreed to.
  • A groundbreaking ceremony for the “Estrella Vista” affordable housing project located at 3706 San Pablo is scheduled for Wednesday, October 11th at 11 am.

Rendering of the proposed project was intended to evaluate massing and not necessarily architecture.

Study Session: Proposed Mix-Use development at 5850 Shellmound Way

A bulk of the meeting revolved around the proposed mixed-use development of an existing property located at 5850 Shellmound way on the northeast corner of Christie Avenue and Shellmound Way just south of the Public Market. The 64,992 square foot parcel is currently the site of a three-story office building that is the headquarters for Innovative Interfaces Inc.

While only in the infancy of the planning cycle, the current plans include the demolition of the existing 61,000 square foot building and construction of an eight-story building accommodating 259 rental units and approximately 10,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space. The ground floor commercial space would face Shellmound Way and the remainder of the ground floor would be used for parking that is accessed by two driveways.

Floors two through eight would accommodate 37 rental units on each floor and the current makeup of the residential floors includes 21 studios (550 square feet each), 84 one-bedroom units (690 square feet), 133 two-bedroom units (1,050 square feet) and 21 three-bedroom units (1,250 square feet). Project amenities include a roof deck, a podium courtyard with a swimming pool and an area for unspecified amenities on the ground floor.

While the location and proposed use of the building are intriguing, a unique wrinkle in the City’s General Plan make this proposed project a unique one. As drafted, the City’s general plan includes a potential relocation of Shellmound way, which would have the segment moved approximately 250 feet north of its current location. The reason for this proposed move stems from a 2007 impact study that the City had prepared recommending the “superblock” be split and increase walkability.

The study took into account large development at the time and its impact on traffic and future development of the area. However, at the time of the report, it was not advised that Shellmound Way be moved, but the potential move was included in the general plan. Given the issue, a general plan amendment is required for any project on this site to move forward.

The uncertainty around the Shellmound way move required the development team lead by Bill Schrader from the Alamo-based Austin Group and Dave Johnson from Johnson Lyman Architects, to come to the Planning Commission earlier in the process than usual in order to get a sense of the Commission’s generally support for a general plan amendment to keep Shellmound at its current location.

In general, the Commission was receptive to the development, but being so early in the process and with little detail provided to them, the discussion was limited to general comments and a request for the developer to continue working on the project details.

In relation to the potential general plan amendment, Chairperson Donaldson expressed her support of keeping Shellmound Way at its current location:

“Traffic is going to be one of the main issues here… and I don’t think it makes sense to move Shellmound way, so I would support the general plan amendment.”

Commissioner Banta also voiced his support for keeping Shellmound in its current location, while also expressing some general comments on the development:

“[this development] make me think a lot about development in Emeryville and our role in helping to manage that… and I think this project is important for the time and context it’s occurring in Emeryville’s evolution as a city and its location as a gateway to all the improvements for the public marker district.”

Commissioner Keller voiced his support for the project, but cautioned that the development should not lose sight of the surrounding community, and should approach the design in a holistic manner:

“First I want to express my support for this project. I love the reuse of this parcel… but so far I don’t like what is being suggested here… the proposal is not working to integrate more with the neighborhood and I am concerned the parcel is being designed in a vacuum.”

Keller was adamant on this being an opportunity to address the poor circulation that has plagued the area. The development team was asked to take the Commission’s comments and continue to work on the details of the project, which will be reviewed and discussed at a later study session.

View the Entire Staff Report →
Watch the staff presentation and subsequent commission discussion above at 36:27.


Public Hearing: Doyle Street Mews Update

The other agenda item the night involved an update on the proposed “Doyle Street Mews” mixed-use development at 5876 – 5880 Doyle Street near The Townhouse Bar & Grill. The Commission previously discussed this project at their July meeting.

As a recap, the project involves the demolition of six existing residential units (two deemed ‘illegal”) and replacing them with six new “family-friendly” residential units. At the July 27th meeting, the Commission expressed support for the project and provided suggestions regarding materials and design, especially in regard to the ground floor façade facing Doyle Street.

After the July 27, 2017 Planning Commission meeting the developers updated the design in several ways to address previous concerns including elevating parts of the foundation to minimize any potential damage to the neighboring redwood trees, as well as re-configuring the design of the units for a more townhouse look, which increases their efficiency in terms of parking and open family space.

The City Council held a subsequent study session on the development on September 5th, and directed conditions of approval. After review of the updated development plan the Planning Commission unanimously approved the conditional use permit and design review application.

View the Entire Staff Report →
Watch the staff presentation and subsequent commission discussion above at 8:33.

About The Author

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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