By Don Ford

EMERYVILLE (KPIX 5) — A 54-story residential tower is being proposed for Emeryville, which would make it the tallest residential building in the Bay Area.

Right now, the proposed site is just an ordinary asphalt parking lot at the corner of Shellmound St. and Christie Ave., one block from Powell St. and Interstate 80.

But if one international development corporation has its way, it’ll soon the location of a skyscraping apartment building.

Vancouver-based real estate development firm Onni Group is proposing the 683-foot tall apartment building, which would be twice as tall as the existing Pacific Park Plaza just up the road.

“My first reaction, like most people’s, is like, wow, that is huge. Maybe a little out of scale,” said Robert Arias, founder of E’villeeye.com, a hyper-local website devoted to all things Emeryville. “But then you take a step back and think, well, we need housing and that would make a pretty broad dent in that.”

The building has a distinctive curve facing west toward the Golden Gate Bridge. Initial documents from Onni Group say the design is inspired by other unique buildings such as the Absolute World towers in Ontario, the Aqua Tower in Chicago and the iconic Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai.

Vanessa Gonzalez lives nearby and is concerned. “I mean, it’s pretty big. I feel it wouldn’t go good in this area, especially with all the traffic we already have.”

Resident Jill Lessing had reservations, too. “I don’t know, doesn’t sound real great for Emeryville.”

I reached out to the city manager who refused comment. The developer didn’t respond to emails or phone calls. Thursday’s Emeryville Planning Commission meeting will surely be the beginning of what is expected to be a long, drawn-out process, as this project take shape.

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