By Ignacio Dayrit, Director of Programs
February 12th, 2018
Emeryville, California is an ongoing brownfields laboratory. During the recent New Partners for Smart Growth conference, as CCLR’s Director of Programs and former brownfields manager for the city, I joined other Emeryville staff to visit some of the city’s redeveloped sites. Blessed with an ideal location and forward-thinking leadership, Emeryville continues to revitalize from what was once called the “dirtiest/rottenest little town on the Pacific Coast/west of the Mississippi” and “the armpit of the Bay Area.” Partnerships helped bridge that infamous past with the model for brownfields redevelopment that many seek to emulate. The city maintains a homey, working class feel as it welcomes demographically diverse new residents, and as businesses lead in innovative industries.
The Emeryville Center of Community Life (ECCL) was not so much a reuse as it was a resource challenge. How does a compact city maximize community and educational services efficiently? The solution, recognized by the Urban Land Institute, was a multi-year effort among the city, school district, business community and state legislators that seamlessly brings together educational, health, family, and recreational services onto one central site.
The Emeryville Greenway and Doyle Hollis Park are part of another multi-year effort to bring open space and recreation in a dense, urban environment with brownfields issues. With the help of several grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency dating back to 1999, and with the cooperation of all the property owners along the way and the railroad company, Emeryville is creating a string of active and passive recreation areas with public art and an energy-generating windmill, spanning the length and width of the city. The crown jewel, soon to be under construction, will be a pedestrian-bicycle bridge that will link the east side of the tracks with the Bay Street mall, one of Emeryville’s three Phoenix Award-winning projects.
The EmeryStation Development is a partnership that dates back to 1992, when Wareham Development began partnering with the city, four regulatory agencies, U.S. EPA and responsible parties to build an Amtrak Station, 1.5 million square feet of office-tech (one of which the group toured, pictured below), condominiums, public art and infrastructure on some of the most challenging brownfields. The building currently under construction, EmeryStation West, was regulated under the EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) program, was made possible with the flexibility of EPA staff and cooperation from the responsible party. Emerystation is one-half a transit-oriented development (TOD)...
...the other half of which is the Emeryville Public Market. After the site was filled in from San Francisco Bay in the early 1900’s, it became a site of asphalt manufacturing, slaughterhouses and industrial uses. It was first redeveloped in 1987. In 2012, the proposed redevelopment received a LEED-ND rating and was designated a Catalyst Community by the state for its innovative strategies for greenhouse gas reduction and sustainable land use practices. City Center Realty Partners (below, giving the group a view from atop a pedestrian bridge) is finishing out the build out under this plan.
These stories are just the tip of the iceberg that took an EmeryVillage to succeed and sustain. Having worked on many of these projects, I proudly look back at how our labors and partnerships continue to bear fruit.
CCLR thanks the City of Emeryville, Wareham Development, City Center Realty Partners and AC Transit for making this tour possible.