Redevelopment of Emeryville’s Marketplace Parcel B Faces Delays Due to Appeal

Emeryville, City Center Realty Partners, Public Market, Wareham Development, Bay Area, Caltrain, Emeryville’s Marketplace
Early Rendering of Parcel B. Image Credit: CCRP

By Meghan Hall

The redevelopment of Emeryville’s Marketplace has been underway for the better part of a decade, slowly working its way through the design, entitlements and construction processes. In 2008, the City Council approved a plan for the redevelopment of the 14.5-acre site that would ultimately include a healthy mix of multifamily residential units, office and retail space along Shellmound Street. Over the years, the project has evolved as development objectives and market factors have changed, and the project’s Parcel B — located at 6200 Shellmound and to be developed by City Center Realty Partners (CCRP) — has hit a snag in the development process as a result of those changes.

“6200 Shellmound (Parcel B) is a critical component of the entire 14.5-acre Public Market redevelopment,” said Mark Stefan, co-founder and president of CCRP. “Our vision for this redevelopment was to take what was a suburban-scale project in the midst of a very urban environment and develop a cohesive mixed-use plan that brings a vibrant new neighborhood to this part of Emeryville.”

The original iteration of the Parcel B project, approved in June 2016, intended to construct 26,000 square feet of retail space and 300 parking spaces. The updated plans, approved in January 2019, includes 14,000 square feet of retail, 150,000 square feet of office and lab space, and 565 parking spaces. The ground-floor retail in Parcel B will surround a parking structure, and the floorplates of the proposed lab/office space are each 50,000 square feet. The design and scope of the building is meant to enhance the character of the Public Market, said Stefan. The new building will also incorporate a public art program on the eastern and western sides of the building.

“The design for Parcel B is consistent with the vision for the Public Market that was approved in 2008,” said Stefan. “The idea has always been to create a street that was activated on both sides, a main street, of sorts.”

Per public documents, the revised plans for Parcel B were submitted in October 2018, and the Planning Commission study session on the new proposal was held in December of 2018. The Planning Commission approved the revised project in January of this year, but just weeks after approval, an appeal was filed challenging the design of the new development.

The appeal was filed by Wareham Development, a major developer and property owner of life sciences real estate in the Bay Area and whose nearby office complex, EmeryStation, is just adjacent to the Public Market across the Caltrain tracks. While Wareham Development declined to comment at this stage, the company states in its appeals letter that the new design does not comply with the guidelines laid out in the City’s 2008 Final Redevelopment Plan (FDP) and that Parcel B’s design does not create a vital streetscape, nor does it leave “livable gaps” between buildings.

“We think…that it matters a great deal that density is deployed in the urban fabric to let these two centers connect to one another,” explained Geoff Sears, partner at Wareham Development, of the Public Market and EmeryStation at January’s Planning Commission meeting. “We are concerned that the major changes we see…really eliminates a key visual connection between two big centers of gravity.”

The appeals letter more specifically notes that the lack of modulation and separation between buildings on the site — and the overall massing of the project — are the basis for the appeal. Sears and Wareham also added that the turnaround for the project, which occurred just over the span of a couple of months, did not provide ample time for the public and others to adequately review project changes.

“This has all come so quickly to be considered…We think the changes are enough that they deserve a little more time for people to weigh in on them,” added Sears.

However, both Sears and Wareham emphasized that it was not opposed to the development’s increase in size; in fact, it was something that Wareham welcomed.

“We are all for greater density at the Marketplace,” said Sears. “We like that it is evolving as a center of gravity.”

The Planning Commission began its reconsideration of the new Parcel B plan and the appeal at the end of April. However, the Planning Commission decided to continue the reconsideration and vote on whether CCRP must revise its plans at a special meeting on May 14th. The decision to delay the vote was based on additional information submitted by Wareham regarding the appeal prior to the meeting, which the Commission felt they did not have adequate time to review.

As for CCRP, the developer is hoping to move forward with a resolution as quickly as possible.

“After over five years working with the City on completing this neighborhood, we look forward to continuing to make this vision a reality,” said Stefan. “…We’ve got a great plan here. Let’s get this done so the appeal does not further delay the project and put the entire project at risk.”

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