Residents raise concerns about traffic over proposed 54-story high-rise in Emeryville

EMERYVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- Emeryville is considering a new residential high-rise in the city's Christie Core neighborhood, just off Highway I-80. If approved, the 54-story building would be the tallest building in the East Bay and 14th tallest in California.

The city's planning commission held its first meeting on the project Thursday night to a full house, with the developers and the public on hand.

"Emeryville is a small city, we don't have these kinds of big projects," says Linda Barrera with the Planning Commission, speaking to the developers. "You guys are the biggest project like this that any of us have seen."

Included in the proposal is 638 housing units- 108 set aside for affordable housing. It also includes 16 floors of office space, a park and a six-story garage. The Canadian based-developers, ONNI, say they're open to more possibilities.

"We are here to take notes and hear the concerns of the residents," says Mark Spector, the vice president of development for California for the developers ONNI Group of Companies.

The 54-story building would be located off of Powell Street, just north of Ikea. The area is already zoned for mixed residential use, which favors the developers.

Some residents welcome the modern design, saying it'll enhance Emeryville's image. But not everyone agrees.

"Donald Trump couldn't build a 50-story high-rise in Moscow, what are we doing building a 54-story in Emeryville? It's crazy!" says Paul Gerhart, who attended the meeting.

Queenesta Dixon lives near the proposed site. Like many, she says traffic is already a huge problem for the intersection that is the main road to the freeway. The new development could bring in up to 1,000 new residents, which would mean more drivers on the road. But her bigger concern is the view of the San Francisco Bay.

"Once they start putting up one high-rise as tall as that one, they may start putting up more, and I think it's really going to obstruct some of the views out here in Emeryville," says Dixon.

The city is a long way off from any kind of vote. A traffic study is yet to be done, there is no decision if these will just be rental units or apartments available for sale. The city says the environmental review alone could take up to one year.
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