In the late 1800s, industrialists who wanted to avoid the taxes and regulations of Oakland and Berkeley created the City of Emeryville. The city was home to paint manufacturers, heavy equipment makers, and scrap yards. Today, Emeryville has transformed itself from an industrial and manufacturing community to a lively urban area combining residential and commercial properties.
Over more than two decades, the City embarked on a long-term, city-wide effort to clean up and repurpose an array of brownfields. With assistance from CCLR’s grant review program, they strategically used U.S. EPA brownfield grants to assess environmental concerns on an area-wide basis. State regulators were then able to shift their attention to the most contaminated sites, allowing the City to assume regulatory authority for low-risk sites via a memorandum of agreement with the State of California. Throughout the process, CCLR provided direct technical assistance, including community outreach, planning, site management, redevelopment and remediation consulting, and training.
Emeryville officials, including Ignacio Dayrit, who is now CCLR’s Lead Program Consultant, were concerned that developers would be reluctant to work on former brownfield sites. To make information about the sites more easily accessible, the City created the One Stop Interactive Resource Information System (OSIRIS), a web-based Geographic Information System tool which showcased environmental, land use, zoning, and real estate information for each parcel. OSIRIS facilitated developer interest in Emeryville brownfield sites by clarifying residual environmental issues and their pre-approved mitigation procedures, alleviating risk and liability concerns.
Emeryville is now home to Pixar Animation Studios, a regional Amtrak station, and thousands of new biotech and cleantech jobs.
Total Area: 300 acres in brownfield target areas
Previous uses: Pigment plant, tannery, paint company, rail yard, warehouses, steel manufacturing, recycling operations, asphalt manufacturing
Current uses: Mixed-use shopping and residential district, large company offices, retailers, movie theaters, infill development
Benefits: Affordable housing, public art, open space and greenway, green infrastructure, pedestrian/streetscape improvements
Financing: EPA brownfield grants and loans, tax increment finance district, cost recovery and insurance
Services provided: Grant assistance, site cleanup and management assistance, community outreach and planning, connection with resources and contacts, training program
The City of Emeryville initiated the project and was largely responsible for organizing the assessment and cleanup effort.
EPA provided several grants to assist in the assessment and cleanup of Emeryville brownfields.
DTSC was the lead agency for case closure once remediation had been completed and coordinated five-year closure reviews.
Ignacio Dayrit coordinates CCLR’s technical assistance program for redevelopment projects. He spent 20 years with the City of Emeryville’s Redevelopment Agency, where he was responsible for the city’s Brownfield Pilot Project and was instrumental in the City’s redevelopment of hundreds of acres of blighted, contaminated property. He has over 23 years of experience in public sector development including: fiscal and financial analysis, public debt financing, feasibility analyses, and urban design.