Historical building may anchor ferry terminal

A cavernous crescent-shaped building on Treasure Island, designed more than 70 years ago to serve as an airport terminal, will soon be the backdrop for another type of landing.

In late 2006, the Board of Supervisors adopted a multibillion-dollar Treasure Island development plan that included a ferry terminal and transit hub, hotels, 300 acres of parks and 6,000 new housing units, including a residential tower that could reach 60 stories.

In updated plans, the ferry terminal has been moved to the front of the U-shaped Building 1 — a four-story building at the entry to the island which has wide staircases, a marble-clad hallway, high ceilings topped by a dome and 150,000 square feet of space.

Ferries that arrive at the terminal would carry tourists and locals alike, according to Jack Sylvan, who oversees public-private partnership projects for The City.

“Ideally, it will attract everybody in the way that the Ferry Building does,” he said.

The U-shaped building was built for the two-year international exposition that began in 1939 and designed to be used eventually as an international airport terminal. It never served that purpose because the Navy took over the island in the lead-up to World War II, according to a 1995 historical study. More recently, it was featured in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”

Under “current thinking,” the building would be filled with shops and restaurants, according to Sylvan.

Treasure Island Development Authority directors in a recent public meeting told Sylvan it will be important to plan stores that are affordable to low-income island residents. Nearly one-third of the new units planned on the island will be sold at below-market rate, plans show.

The updated plans will be presented to the Board of Supervisors when an environmental impact report for the project is finished, according to Sylvan. That’s expected early next year, he said.

The artificially made, 450-acre island is currently home to nearly 3,000 people — “everything from no-income to high-income” residents, according to development authority spokeswoman Marianne Thompson.

jupton@examiner.com

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