A project proposed for Piers 30-32 and Seawall Lot 330 includes two towers as well as lower buildings on the Piers and a swimming pool that will be open to the public. (© Steelblue for Strada Investment.)

$1B development would bring 850 housing units, floating public pool to waterfront

State density bonus could allow project to exceed existing height limits for site

A more than $1 billion development proposal on San Francisco’s waterfront near the Bay Bridge would bring 850 units of housing to Seawall Lot 330 and commercial buildings with a floating public swimming pool on rebuilt Piers 30-32.

The project, proposed by Strada Investment Group and Trammell Crow Company, could bring certainty to an area that has seen other development pitches come and go and where a 200-person homeless Navigation Center currently operates.

The project was one of the three proposals for the site that Port of San Francisco staff is recommending. The Port Commission, which was briefed on the proposals Tuesday, is scheduled to vote Sept. 22 on whether to direct staff to begin working on an exclusive negotiating agreement with Strada TCC Partners, LLC.

One uncertainty, however, is whether the project will need to come before the voters under the June 2014 measure, Proposition B, which requires voter approval of projects that exceed existing height limits.

“Port staff has not yet evaluated how the State’s Density Bonus statute interacts with Proposition B,” Port of San Francisco spokesperson Randy Quezada told the San Francisco Examiner in an email.

The Strada TCC team would build 850 units on Seawall Lot 330, a 2.3 acre site across from the piers “in the heart of the South Beach waterfront.” The project would take advantage of a state density program to exceed building heights in exchange for offering 25 percent of the units, or 207, at below market rates that are affordable to a range of income levels, according to a memo from Elaine Forbes, executive director of the Port of San Francisco. The units are proposed as ranging from rentals of studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms.

Piers 30 and 32 would be rebuilt on smaller lines and house two office buildings as well as a pool under a proposal by developer Strada. ((Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

The site is zoned for 105 feet maximum, according to the memo, but the state density program may allow the project to exceed those heights without going to voters. The proposal includes a northern residential building at 160 feet and a southern residential building at 218 feet, according to the project’s architect. The adjacent Watermark Tower is 235 feet high.

The proposal also includes the demolition and rebuild of the 17 acres of Piers 30-32 at a size 45 percent smaller and construction on them of “two-story shed buildings with high ceilings, conforming to the 40-foot height limit,” the memo said. The buildings would include 376,000 square feet of office space and 30,700 square feet of retail and restaurant space. A floating swimming pool, one of the more attention-grabbing amenities, would exist between the two piers.

Jesse Blout, a co-founder of Strada, told the Port Commission that “one of the through-lines of all the past failed efforts on this particular pier has been the incredible cost and risk associated with retrofitting and rebuilding the piers.”

“A light bulb went off. What if we solve the cost problem by dramatically reducing the footprint of the pier?” he said.

Blout also noted that a nonprofit would manage the pool and it would be free to low-income residents.

The $1.18 billion project would spend $369 million to upgrade the waterfront’s infrastructure including strengthening the seawall, new seismically-sound piers and sea-level rise protection.

Seawall Lot 330 currently holds the Embarcadero Safe Navigation Center. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The Port Commission in December 2019 approved a request for proposals for development ideas. Three valid proposals were received.

Strada TCC received the highest marks of the three, 109.34 points. The second highest score of 89.33 points went to a proposal from Tishman Speyer. Speyer’s proposal called for 449 units on Seawall Lot 330 with 50 percent affordable housing units. Vornado, the third bidder, proposed 360 units with 25 percent of them affordable.

Port Commissioner Gail Gilman called the three proposals “strikingly different.”

“It seems clear to me from a scoring perspective that the Strada team, particularly on the engineering, really was head and shoulders above the rest,” Gilman said.

The sites have largely been used as surface parking lots by the Port in past years, generating about $2.4 million a year in revenues.

Port Commissioner Doreen Woo Ho noted that “this has been such a difficult project, particularly given the state of the pier and the infrastructure involved.”

“We always knew that Seawall Lot 330 was kind of the carrot for the project,” she said, but it left questions for what would happen with Pier 30-32. She said all three proposals “came up with excellent answers.”

Previously, the Warriors had planned to use Seawall Lot 330 for a hotel and condo development to help finance a new arena on Piers 30-32, but amid opposition decided instead to build it in Mission Bay.

The Port’s Northern Advisory Committee will discuss the project on Sept. 16

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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