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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Abject Propaganda Language Stripped From Market Place Development Documents

Improved Affordability for Well Planned Development

Project Will Contribute to the General Well Being of the Neighborhood

Development Will Contain Iconic Architecture

News Analysis/Opinion
The Market Place development will be a great project for Emeryville....oh wait...strike that.  Make that: the Market Place development will be a... project for Emeryville.

Shellmound Avenue's long planned albeit contentious Market Place development, a proposed series of residential towers with nearly 500 rental units, was finally approved by the Emeryville City Council last Tuesday night after the developer was forced to increase the number of affordable units as had been demanded by the Council majority last July.  In the interim months, City Center Realty Partners the San Francisco based development corporation, agreed under pressure to increase the number of affordable units from 33 to 50, as the Council majority had indicated would be necessary for a deal to be reached.
The increase in the affordability for the Market Place development is certainly good news for Emeryville as is the fact that the City Council majority also forced City Center Realty to honor our new family housing ordinance but unfortunately the final Development Agreement (DA) at the Market Place allows for a very large and deeply flawed project to be built in our town.  From the glut of parking spaces to the anemic Christie Park expansion to its lack of locally serving retail to its 100% rental make-up, this project never should have been approved, especially since the project will be revenue neutral for Emeryville.

Councilman Scott Donahue
The Market Place development
will make Emeryville worse
as far as traffic, park acreage per
resident, locally serving retail,
rental vs ownership housing,
revenue and architecture goes.
Other than that, it'll be a
wonderful project.
The myriad problems with the Market Place project are obviously not lost on Councilman Scott Donahue who even though he supported the project, ordered the imprecise euphemistic adjective language peppered throughout the ordinance document associated with the project to be stricken from the record.  Councilman Donahue said the affordability and family friendliness improvements the Council majority achieved through negotiations with the developer were good enough to vote for final approval for the project but he couldn't countenance the fawning language the City Attorney and the City Planning Directer had crafted in the ordinance written to give the developer the green light to proceed.  His colleges agreed with him and the document has now been changed to reflect a different set of findings by the Council.  Specifically, Mr Donahue said and his colleagues agreed the project is not well planned and the adjective in the sentence in the ordinance that makes that claim should be removed.  So now Emeryville residents digging through documents at City Hall will learn the Market Place was planned...just planned, not well planned.  That's good to know.

In addition City Hall is now on record noting the Market Place project will not contribute to the well being of the neighborhood but rather it will contribute in some unquantified non-specific way.  It'll contribute they tell us, but the City of Emeryville would rather not say precisely how.  They DO want us to know it'll contribute though.
Council member Donahue, unimpressed with the architectural integrity of the Market Place proposal attempted to remove the word 'iconic' from the ordinance's language but he failed to get support from his colleagues to that.  So now, if anyone thinks the buildings at the Market Place are anything but fabulous, will be corrected.  The buildings there are iconic, the City wants us to know.  You'd think they'd want us to realize that on our own by sheer dint of the groovy tour de force architectural awesomeness of the Market Place.  But any doubters, presumably, will be convinced by inclusion of the word iconic in the ordinance that the buildings are in fact iconic.

Apparently our Councilman Donahue feels a bit squeamish signing his name to a document that makes demonstrably false claims in flowery imprecise language permanently ensconced at City Hall.  That's new for Emeryville.  We're not sure how much value this has for residents but we think it has more than no value.  Maybe this rejection of hyperbole and expectation for more precise language at City Hall will translate into making better actual development.  Maybe with more people expecting a good development to be quietly delivered by City Hall rather than a promise to deliver a good development with some well placed euphemisms will mean a good development will turn into a good development.

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