Alternative race bid saves $95M

The new, cheaper alternative that has been floated by The City to host a prestigious yacht race equates to $95 million less investment in waterfront infrastructure, but would not require public land to be turned over to private investors.

Despite the loss of the $95 million, city officials say the newer alternative focuses investment dollars on piers The City wants to develop and would advance a much-desired cruise terminal.

San Francisco’s bid to host the America’s Cup yachting race in 2013 advanced yesterday, as the Port Commission approved two race site alternatives: a more expensive alternative that would place the hub of the race south of the Bay Bridge, and a second that would center it on the Northern Waterfront.

The previous America’s Cup —held in Valencia, Spain, in February — was won by Bay Area billionaire Larry Ellison’s yachting team, which now has the right to choose the host city for the next race.

Since then, much of San Francisco’s leadership has rallied around a bid to host the prestigious event, which could bring more than $1 billion to the Bay Area. However, some officials have raised concerns that the event would come at great expense to The City and the port.

The first, focused south of the Bay Bridge, would cost the Port Commission — which oversees The City’s waterfront — $43 million. It would provide the America’s Cup Event Authority with free rent for decades on Piers 30-32 and Pier 50. It would obligate The City to hand over the title to Seawall 330 and all new taxes generated in the redeveloped area. In exchange, the America’s Cup Event Authority would invest $150 million into Port property.

A second alternative emerged after it was announced the racing yachts are 72-foot catamarans — small enough for the northern option to be viable. The newer alternative would be cheaper for both the Port and the team — requiring just a $15 million investment by The City and a $55 million investment by the team. The Event Authority would have multidecade leases on Piers 30-32 and Seawall 330, but it would be required to pay rent on the property after recouping the $55 million. The City would not hand over the title to Seawall 330
or redevelopment taxes.

Port Deputy Director of Waterfront Development Jonathan Stern said that while less money would be invested in infrastructure with the second alternative, those dollars are dedicated to projects that are among the highest priorities for the Port: fixing substructure of Piers 30-32, and moving along a cruise terminal project on Pier 27. It would also prevent The City from being forced to evict dozens of long-established tenants on Pier 50.

The Port Commission unanimously approved both proposals, but commissioners voiced preference for the northern alternative. The proposals will next be considered by the Board of Supervisors Finance Committee on Dec. 8 and will go before the full board
Dec. 14.

kworth@sfexaminer.com

Tale of two sites

The City is currently vetting two separate concepts to host an America’s Cup race.

Central Waterfront bid

  • Where: The hub of race activities would be Piers 30-32 and Seawall 330 just south of the Bay Bridge. The teams would be housed at Pier 50, south of AT&T Park, where other “backstage” activities would take place.
  • What the America’s Cup Event Authority would pay for: Replacing substructure of Piers 30-32; infrastructure improvements to Pier 50; all necessary dredging; breakwaters where necessary.
  • What the America’s Cup Event Authority would get: Rent-free 66-year and 75-year leases on the piers; ownership of Seawall 330, with no restrictions on development on that property; all new taxes in the vicinity.
  • Cost to America’s Cup Event Authority: $150 million
  • Cost to the Port: $43 million

 

Northern Waterfront bid

  • Where: The hub of race activities would be located at Piers 19-27, at the top of Telegraph Hill. “Backstage” activities would occur on Piers 30-32 and Seawall 330, just south of the Bay Bridge.
  • What the America’s Cup Event Authority would pay for: Replacing substructure of Piers 30-32; infrastructure improvements on Pier 27, moving forward the Port’s desired Cruise Terminal project; all necessary dredging.
  • What the America’s Cup Event Authority would get: 66-year lease on Piers 30-32; 75-year lease on Seawall 330, with no restrictions on development on that property; all new taxes in the vicinity.
  • Cost to America’s Cup Event Authority: $55 million
  • Cost to the Port: $15.8 million

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