Surreal Estate

It used to be that landfills and brownfields were relegated for future development solely as dog parks and golf courses. But a new real estate development in Emeryville, California, indicates that such sites are increasingly attractive as urban redevelopment zones.

Bay Street is located in a heavy industrial section of Emeryville — but is being revamped as a three-block, $400-million retail and residential neighborhood featuring a movie theater, a hotel, and more than 300 residential units. The project is an impressive example of the reinvention of an industrial city, the reclamation of misused land, and mixed-use development.

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  • Greg Greene

    If Bay Street impresses you, you should sneak a peek at this — a 100-plus acre brownfield project here in Atlanta. Ribbon-cutting for the first components took place last month.

  • Zennie


    I live near the Bay Street complex, and while I'm happy that it's being mentioned here, I don't think it's the best example of infill mixed use development.
    The better example is actually the ENTIRE city of Emeryville. 10 Years ago, the land bound by 63rd Street to the North, San Pablo Blvd to the East, and The I-880 Freeway to the West was largely unused rail tracks.
    Then developer David Martin constructed the Emeryville Public Market, and the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency hired Kofi Bonner to head the planning and financing of proposed development projects within the tax-increment financing district bounded by the streets I described.
    Kofi established an agressive tone for the agency, and that shows not just in the shopping centers constructed, but the infrastructure built, like the crosstown overpass, and the new sidewalks.
    This work put Kofi on a remarkable career fast track, which sent him from Emeryville to San Francisco, then to Oakland as Economic Development head, then as Interim City Manager, and back to San Francisco as Economic Advisor to Mayor Willie Brown, and finally as Executive Vice President of Business Operations and Development for the Cleveland Browns.
    How do I know this? Three reasons:
    1. I wrote as a columnist for The Montclarion in Oakland covering the issue of economic development in Oakland and surrounding cities.
    2. I then served as Economic Advisor to The Mayor of Oakland when Kofi came to work for us.
    3. Kofi and I met at the Masters Program in City Planning at UC Berkeley and remain friends to this day.
    So when you want to understand how the foundation of Emeryville's explosive growth was laid, look to the tenure of Kofi Bonner with the redevelopment agency.
    Zennie Abraham
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