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Citing high costs, developer drops plans for retail project at Pier 29

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A developer has dropped plans for a retail project at Pier 29. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

High costs have driven a developer to drop out of plans to open retail shops in the vacant bulkhead building at Pier 29, a spokesperson for the company confirmed Wednesday.

Jamestown LLC, an Atlanta-based real estate developer whose portfolio includes Ghirardelli Square and three other large locations in The City, was approved to lease the 20,000 square-foot bulkhead of Pier 29 by the Board of Supervisors last March and planned to open shops including a craft-beer brewery, a wine tasting site and a coffee roaster. The developer was also required to sell an undetermined percentage of goods from local merchants in San Francisco, according to the term agreement.

However, the cost of renovating the Pier, which was partially burned down in a fire in 2012, along with a lease term that was found to be too short to suit the developer, led Jamestown to drop the project, a representative told the Port Commision at a meeting earlier this month.

“The total infrastructure costs required to prepare the Pier 29 bulkhead into a leasable retail facility are infeasibly high,” said Remy Monteko, vice president of Jamestown, LP. “Following discussions with the Port, we have terminated our Exclusive Negotiation Agreement for Pier 29.”

The projected costs for the renovation and rent at the bulkhead of Pier 29 was originally a little more than $5.8 million with a rent of $25,000 a month. The cost, along with a 15-year lease agreement that the developer said was ten years too short, stopped the project altogether.

The proposal to add retail space on the waterfront was met with objections from local activists when it became public in 2016. They argued that the plans would create a “mini-mall” and were concerned that the project would expand past the 20,000 square-foot bulkhead, impinging on recreational space along the waterfront.

“We saw this proposal kind of come out of a general desire of the Port to fill up and activate some of the piers,” said Jon Golinger, who sits on a Waterfront Land Use Plan advisory committee. “But it sort of morphed from a proposal to put some recreation on this pier and it ended up turning into what we believe would be a shopping center, like a mini-mall.”

“I’m hopeful that everyone learns a valuable lesson in this project as I think people have learned in other failed projects, which is that we take a comprehensive approach to developing a waterfront and not take developer’s projects just because the developer is pushing hard for them,” Golinger said.

The Port Advisory Commission will be issuing Requests for Interest next month. Pier 29, along with half a dozen vacant piers, will be included in the requests.

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