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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Center For The Arts Director Resigns

Emeryville Center for the Arts Director Sees Looming Problems, Resigns 

The nascent Emeryville Center for the Arts received a severe blow with the sudden resignation of its Executive Director Sheila Bergman, City Manager Pat O'Keeffe told the city council Monday.  Ms Bergman expressed doubt that the project will be realized anytime soon due to Redevelopment Agency restructuring and she expressed fear that her job would not be secure, according to Mr O'Keeffe.
Slipping away?
We're already in for $5.6 million.

The setback for the center makes the proposed fall 2012 opening date almost certainly impossible.  Mr O'Keeffe told the council the news however is not necessarily fatal for the $15 million center but he indicated with the fiscal uncertainty, due to a lawsuit pending in Sacramento brought by the California Redevelopment Agency Association, it would be difficult to recruit a replacement director.
Ms Bergman expressed concern that funding would not materialize for the project as a contributing factor in her resignation.

Emeryville has already spent $3.6 million to acquire the 30,000 square foot United Stamping building at 4060 Hollis Street, behind City Hall for the Center and another $2 million, given to Pixar as part of a deal meant to help acquire land for their campus expansion several years ago and then "donated" by Pixar for the Center.

Ms Bergman was brought on the team for the Center for the Arts in May 2010 with much fanfare.  One of her first acts was to assist in the selection of San Francisco's Jensen Architects for the project, a choice architecture critic John King called possibly the "Bay Area's most intriguing architectural competition in memory".
The resignation is effective immediately and Ms Bergman has already accepted "another assignment" in Los Angeles according to Mr O'Keeffe.

Pat O'Keeffe told the council in a letter Monday that the Emeryville Center for the Arts Board of Directors would need to "regroup" to develop a new schedule of implementation in the wake of the set back.


  1. so are you saying that pixar didn't pay a dime for the parcel directly behind ihop? first the city gives pixar $2 million and then pixar "donates" the $2 million back to the art center? not a bad deal. although i haven't measured either parcel, the city paid dutro $5 million for their block which is now the doyle st. park and visually looks smaller than pixar's lot.

  2. and emeryville center for the arts co-sponsored the park avenue event? by how much? jeez, i wish the city wasn't so free with spending my money especially where food is concerned.

  3. To the readers-
    Several years ago, the City of Emeryville paid $2 million for a parcel of land meant for housing, including family friendly units, behind I-Hop/Arizmendi's Bakery. Then Pixar expressed interest in the parcel to be used for a parking lot for their campus expansion. The city subsequently gave the land to Pixar and then Pixar "donated" the same amount to the Center for the Arts. Pixar netted substantial public good will from the move and the city was able to keep Pixar happy (at a cost of $2 million).

  4. My head is spinning. Brian I hope you keep up the good work. I will reserve comment until my head stops spinning. Who is running this city, anyway, and who is keeping us informed as to what is really going on?

    Let me rephrase the first sentence: "Even as a Stanford graduate attorney who spent his first 10 years in big-firm practice, my head is spinning."

    The departure of an employee for a better job just saves us money short term. Cynical me believes when we are ready to spend the money on the actual center, we will find another employee.

    But the sleight of hand with Pixar blows me away.

    Couldn't we have at least made a "profit" on that particular "under the table card deal"?

    And what happened to our commitment to family friendly housing?

  5. This is sad. This awesome project is yet another victim of the f---ing State's elimination of redevelopment. If the State would stop taking away all our local money we could actually make some great things happen.

  6. Is there a "like" button for the audacious comment that dropped the "f" bomb?

  7. the state is not taking away our local money. if the redevelopment agencies of california cities including emeryville, had new development pay their fair share to the school district, traffic impact fees, and city services based on an obscure formula and based on gross square feet of their development as it had in the past, gov. brown's proposal to abolish these agencies would not have been necessary.

    the redevelopment agency of garden grove (located in orange county) "reneged on $2 million owed to local schools, until threatened litigation restored the funds."

    "in 2002, the placentia-yorba linda (also in orange county) unified school district successfully sued the yorba linda redevelopment agency to recoup up to $240 million in lost property tax revenues. with $775 million in indebtedness, the agency had diverted school funds to build golf courses and shopping centers." these two examples can be found in "redevelopment: the unknown government" published by municipal officials for redevelopment reform (morr) published in september, 2007. the statistics in this booklet came from the state controller's office. on page 13 table 4.3 it lists the top 12 california per capita redevelopment indebtedness by city. emeryville placed 7th on this list with a total indebtedness of $340,053,271 and this based on a population of 8,261! i have a few copies left of the 2007 report if anyone is interested. i am waiting for the 2009-2010 report to be released.