New Marina Way Development Approved by Richmond City Council

Sean Pyles


An expansive, state-of-the-art housing development is poised to bring nearly 200 more units of housing to Richmond. City Council approved the new development Tuesday, but only after a lengthy and divisive discussion about the health risks of developing in such an industrial neighborhood in close proximity to a freeway and a rail yard. 

The approved 193-unit development, Bay Walk, is slated to go up at 830 Marina Way South, on an industrial site that has been unused for 10 years. 

The development firm behind the project, Development Solutions, collaborated with the City’s Planning Department to ensure fulfillment of the city’s 2012 General Plan goals, in addition to partnering with several local community groups and small businesses. The goal is to make Bay Walk a neighborhood hub.  

“There were about a dozen community groups that we’ve talked with and worked with over the past year and a half, and one of the key things they said after bring us a grocery store…the second thing they said was bring us a coffee shop, bring us some small businesses in addition to homes that can make this a more vibrant place,” said Brian Coggins of Development Solutions.

A new Catahoula Coffee shop, public art from NIAD, public gardens, and space for residents to open their own small businesses are all part of the plan to make Bay Walk a community hub. 

As exciting as the potential use for this space was to some councilmembers, they also had concerns about the health risks to future residents of living in such an industrial corridor. The plot of land is stuck between the traffic of Interstate 580 to its north and railroad tracks to the south, and diesel engines from semi trucks regularly run through the surrounding roads, all of which pollute the immediate environment. 

“How do you explain going forward with a project so close [to this type of pollution]?” asked Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin of the development firm. 

An air quality manager on the project, Jeff Horneck, explained that they followed guidelines by the Air Quality Review Board and conducted a survey of the impact of the air quality, though no official Environmental Impact Review had been conducted. Development Solutions plans to take precautions to ensure a healthy environment for the buildings residents. 

“In order to mitigate the risk posed by air quality, we will be using air filters that are proven to be 90 percent effective in reducing pollutants for residents of the building,” Horneck said.  

The air quality manager conceded that the effectiveness of these filters is contingent upon the units doors and windows staying closed most of the time, but that they are the best solution available. 

This explanation didn’t convince some councilmembers, but Mayor Tom Butt praised the project for its collaborative approach.

“I think this is a model project for collaboration between the community, the Planning Department, and the City,” Mayor Butt said. “With the air quality issue…I think at the end of the day there’s still a lot of ambiguity here.”

After discussion on the issue, Councilmember Vinay Pimplé made a motion to approve the item, which passed with approval from Councilmembers Myrick, Bates, Pimplé, and Mayor Butt. Councilmembers Eduardo Martinez, Jovanka Beckles, and McLaughlin abstained from voting.


Photo: East Bay Modern

Showing 4 reactions

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  • Steve Stewart
    commented 2015-10-14 16:11:19 -0700
    I did not see any provisions for low income housing included in this project. Is this just another grab for the bucks?
  • Howard Lacheen
    commented 2015-10-09 08:08:55 -0700
    I am glad this project was approved. It is well laid out and a perfect fit for Marina Bay. The Marina bay area was once a giant shipyard and other industry and is now residential.. Why does the RPA think that it is unsafe to build near a freeway? Most cities have dwellings near highways that carry much more traffic than 580. Do they have air monitoring data? Trains use clean burning diesel and have particulate filters and other emmission control.
  • Jeanne Kortz
    commented 2015-10-08 16:29:47 -0700
    I can tell you that where I live in Marina Bay, we’ve had a tremendous uptick in diesel trucking activity. We are very concerned about the impact of these trucks on our health, plus the noise pollution is awful as well. I don’t blame council members Beckles, Martinez, and McLaughlin for abstaining. Being near heavy industry next to the freeway is not a place I would want to live. I think it’s an area many people will question as to whether or not they want to spend their hard earned dollars on a home so close to heavy pollution. I for one would not, and I am especially angry at the Richmond Planning Department for not renewing permits for the increase in trucking activity in our area. If they had, the residents would have had a say, but since the permits are from the early 1990’s and were not renewed for the increase in trucking activity, we are having to deal with this problem and it’s a long, long, process where we are not getting much cooperation. So much for Richmond attracting new home owners. Richmond has to get their priorities straight. If they want to attract residents and gain property taxes, they have to be smarter about location, and the amount of heavy industry allowed in the city.
  • Veronica Keeton
    commented 2015-10-07 16:40:26 -0700
    Very typical of the RPA councilmember bloc, one leads the others follow. These are the same people who have been complaining about housing (and lack of housing) in Richmond. The same people that only have bad ideas and no good solutions. Now they cannot vote on a project (although not perfect) to provide more housing. Thanks RPA, for doing nothing.

    I commend Butt, Bates, and Pimple for their approval of this project in an effort to address the city’s growing housing issues. Keep moving forward.
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