Art Center for Emeryville

EVA Hollis Street Elevation 9.24.20

Current Status:

With the approvals granted by the City Council and Planning Commission (discussed further below), the City and Orton Development Incorporated (ODI) are currently working to complete tasks in preparation of executing the Ground Lease which governs the construction and operation of the Art Center.  These tasks include review of construction drawings, financial documents, operational documents and contracts.  Additionally, the project is proceeding through a building permit plan check.  Once these tasks have been completed and a building permit is ready to issue, the Ground Lease may be executed and construction will commence.  Construction activities are expected to take approximately 18 months.

City Council Approval

The Art Center is being developed as a public/private partnership as further discussed in the RFQP process below. Key features of the partnership included assurance of an annual location at the facility for the Emeryville Celebration of the Arts, provision of arts-related uses, and creation of a sustainable and independent operation budget for the Center by providing for a mixture of uses including commercial uses. As part of this process, the Council reviewed the legal and financial framework for the development including a Lease Disposition and Development Agreement and a Ground Lease. The review took place over several negotiation sessions and the agreements were reviewed at the Council September 1, 2020 regular meeting held online via a webinar/call in session. The item was approved unanimously by the City Council. The September 1st Council meeting Agenda, Staff report, and related Ordinance are provided here.

Planning Permits

As part of the City regulatory process, review of required Planning Permits was required as a key first step in the development process. Required Planning Permits included a Design Review Permit, a Conditional Use Permit (for change in use from prior industrial facility), a Tree Removal Permit (for removal of existing small conifer trees facing Hollis Street), and a General  Plan Consistency review. Study Sessions were held prior to the formal permit review as described in the Background discussion, below. On August 27, 2020 the Planning Commission held an online webinar/call in session to review the required Planning permits and, following the public hearing, approved the application subject to conditions of approval. A short set of architectural slides illustrating the project are provided here. Additional site plan and architectural renderings are available at the link to the Planning Commission agenda for the August 27th meeting, provided in the Background discussion below.

EVA 40th Street Elevation  9-24-20

Please visit this (Art Center) webpage periodically to check on the latest status of the project as it moves into its construction phase.


On November 13, 2018, the City Council authorized the City Manager to execute an Exclusive Right to Negotiate Agreement (ERN) with Orton Development Inc. (Orton) for the development and operation of an Art Center on the City-owned property located at 4060 Hollis Street. At this time, staff is negotiating terms with Orton for a Lease Disposition and Development Agreement (LDDA), a legal document that will include requirements for the construction and operation of the Art Center. 

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Planning Commission Study Sessions

The public was invited to attend two Study Sessions on the Art Center proposal held by the Planning Commission on February 28, 2019 in the Emeryville City Council Chambers and in an online Zoom webinar/call in format Study Session, due to the Pandemic Shelter in Place requirements, on June 18, 2020. Minutes from the meetings are available on the City's website on the Planning Commission Agenda page here

Art Center Project Renewal.

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On January 16, 2018, the City Council held a Study Session regarding the Emeryville Center for the Arts and Culture.At that time, the public was invited to comment on a proposal for Council to consider and approve the release of a Request for Qualifications / Proposals (RFQ/P) to gauge potential private interest and associated financial assistance to construct and operate the facility. Test

Overall RFQ/P Objectives:

  • Minimize City subsidy while ensuring fiscal sustainability of operations
  • Maximize civic and community arts-based uses of the facility
  • Expedite completion of the project
  • Utilize robust community engagement in developing programming for the facility

Reference Documents.

The following documents were prepared over the last several years for previous iterations of the Art Center Project and are provided for context and background purposes only. Due to space limitations, the electronic document library is not exhaustive; if additional materials are desired for review, access to hard copy materials may be made available.



DTSC Certification

EnvirStor Summary

Research Materials:

Benchmark Study

Focus Group Report

Articles re. Community Art Facilities

Task Force-Visioning Workshop

Design/Plan Background

Art Center and Cultural District Needs

Building Plans and Existing Conditions

Design Review / Use Permit Staff Report


Capital Improvement Project Budget

Organizational Structure

Prior Operating Documents

Business Plan

Fundraising Feasibility Study

Strategic Plan

RFQP Phase I Qualification Round:

RFQP Qualification Round Finalists "Short List"

Following a Mandatory Presubmittal meeting where the background on the Art Center and review of the above-referenced documents were discussed, attendees were invited to form teams including diverse skill sets such as contractors, art administrators, property managers, etc. Several teams formed following the meeting and submitted their qualifications to the City. Then "Short List" indicates the initial partnerships that were been deemed the most qualified to move forward to Phase II of the Art Center RFQP process. As articulated in the RFQP, the short list of teams was chosen based on Overall Objectives & Key Elements and through the application of Selection Criteria in the RFQP Click here to review the list of teams who have been qualified to move forward to Phase II of the RFQP process.

Phase II Final Proposals Review and Private Partner Selection:

Art Center - Listening Session 

Developers, Construction companies, Art Administrators, and Non Profits were recently invited to submit their qualifications for the rt Center Request for Qualifications and Proposals to establish a public/ private partnership. The partnership is intended to both expedite the project and to address long term Art Center operations costs. The City is inviting three of the teams that passed the Qualification rounds to meet with the public on May 22nd in the evening to listen to the public's expectations and desires for the Art Center project moving forward.

Art Center Listening Session    

Phase II Submittals

In mid-July, the interviews of the Art Center Request for Proposals (RFQP) Phase II qualifying team interviews were held and included the two panels required by the Art Center RFQP – the Art Center Interview Panel (Community Panel) and a Staff Panel. As is typical for Selection Committee appointments, Former City Manager Lehr appointed members of the community to the Art Center Interview Panel. This Blue Ribbon Panel was made up of experts from various fields related to aspects of the Art Center project such as city officials as well as members of the arts and business communities and included:

Art Center Interview Panel ("Blue Ribbon" Community Panel)

The Community Panel included:

  • Gail Donaldson Chair, Emeryville Planning Commission, responsible for City Land Use Review and familiar with Planning Entitlement Processes, and Emeryville resident

  • Melody Kozma-Kennedy Professional Exhibitor for the SF Museum of Modern Art, Member of Emeryville Public Art Committee and Emeryville resident
  • Jim Kennedy Vice President, Pixar, VP of Marketing, Pixar Facilities management, Rotten City Emeryville Cultural Arts District Partner and Emeryville business leader

  • Jean Goldman Emeryville Public Art Committee Vice Chair, contributor to Prior Art Center project process, Emeryville business owner and resident
  • Bryce Gaspard Director, Bullseye Glass Resource Center; Professional in Arts Education, creation and operation of Artist Studio Space, Artist Residency/Exhibit Programs, Rotten City Emeryville Cultural Arts District Partner, and Emeryville business leader

  • Elmo Frazer President, SAE Expression College, school facility administrator, and art studio/production facility management, informal partner to the Rotten City Emeryville Cultural Arts District, and Emeryville arts educator
  • Robert Swatt Swatt-Miers Architects, American Institute of Architects Fellow (FAIA) recommended by East Bay AIA as familiar with significant civic projects, Emeryville business owner

MayorJohn Bauters pitched-in by serving as the Community Panel’s meeting facilitator but did not vote or otherwise participate in the formal scoring process.Community Development Director Bryant and Interim City Manager Holgersson served as staff support to the Community Panel and Project Manager Thériault served as support to the Staff panel as well as to the Community Panel, as needed. 

Staff Interview Panel. 

Members of the Staff interview panel included those responsible for processing of civic facility projects’ technical reviews and financial pro forma analysis and included staff from Public Works, Community Development and the City Attorney’s Office.

Private Partner Selection.

On September 17, 2018, staff brought information regarding the Phase II proposals and the Short List of teams to the City Council for their review. The staff report included calculations of the two interview panels' scores, reviewed by Project manager Thériault. Additional process and financial (construction cost) analysis were also conducted by the City of Emeryville Planning and Building Divisions, Fire Department, and Public Works Department teams and comments included in the staff report. The report included attachments consisting of the proposed conceptual designs and the respective recommendations of the two interview panels for their preferred private partner team. Following presentations by staff and each of the Short List of teams, the City Council invited members of the public to comment, and then reviewed the scoring and merits of each proposal based on their respective compliance with the priorities of the RFQP including the need to: minimize City subsidy, ensure fiscal sustainability of operations, Maximize civic and community arts-based uses of the facility, expedite completion of the project, and utilization of a robust community engagement in developing programming for the facility. Orton Development, Inc's proposal was deemed to be in the closest alignment with project objectives and the team was chosen as the private partner to move forward in the RFQP process.

The staff report with conceptual proposal attachments for the September 17, 2018 Council meeting area available with the agenda agenda item City Council Agenda.