500 homes, retail for old paint plant are dusted off after a decade’s delay

Publication: San Francisco Business Times
Date: April 12, 2013

A pair of developers are restarting development of a former Sherwin-Williams paint factory in Emeryville — a rare large site in the compact East Bay city.

Environmental cleanup of the 8.55-acre property wrapped up last fall with state authorities providing a stamp of approval earlier this year for new development. Sherwin-Williams selected a partnership of SRM Ernst Partners and Thompson Dorfman to come up with a master plan for the site. “This is one of the prime development opportunity sites in the city,” said Charles Bryant, Emeryville’s director of planning. “It will be much better than an old polluted paint factory.” Most of the former factory has been demolished other than one 81,000-square-foot historic office building at the corner of Horton Street and Sherwin Avenue that will likely be re-purposed. The site is zoned for a mix of residential and commercial uses and can accommodate up to 500 units of housing and 55,000 square feet of commercial space based on city guidelines.

SW2Like most of Emeryville, the former industrial site could see new life as housing or commercial space in a city that only measures one square mile. Bryant said adding housing for the city’s growing population is key as well as adding more open space, street connections and extending the Emeryville Greenway trail. About two acres of the site will be dedicated for open space.

“The project will hopefully have some affordable housing and increase residential density,” Bryant said. “We have been hoping for years to get more activity on Park Avenue.” SRM Ernst Partners and Thompson Dorfman, which declined to comment for this story, first took a swing at redeveloping the site in 2003 and filed an application with the city for 577 residential units and 35,000 square feet of commercial space. Sherwin- Williams then withdrew the application to wait until the environmental remediation was complete for development to move forward. Last fall, Sherwin-Williams requested proposals from developers and received responses from SRM Ernst Partners and Thompson Dorfman as well as Avalon Bay, Archstone, Pulte Homes, Trammell Crow and Civic Ventures, but ultimately chose the original team. The city expects the developers to submit initial plans this year.