Overhaul planned for Ferry Plaza waterfront

An overhaul of the area surrounding the Ferry Building that will benefit pedestrians and bicyclists will be funded by adding 65 parking spots.

The Ferry Building became a popular shopping destination after rehabilitation efforts finished in 2002 — but minimal work was undertaken at Ferry Plaza, which is between the Ferry Building and the Bay. The plaza remains a jumble of driveways, loading areas and walkways when it isn’t being used for a farmers’ market.

To improve Ferry Plaza, the master tenants at the Ferry Building proposed overhauling the waterfront area — which is presently used as a driveway — to provide exclusive pedestrian access.

Under the proposal, the pedestrian promenade behind the Ferry Building would extend southward, and vehicle loading and traffic areas would become more clearly marked.

To fund the improvements, which are forecast to cost $879,000, parking for 65 cars would be placed in the center of Ferry Plaza for up to six years.

Commissioners for the Port of San Francisco, which owns the Ferry Building and Ferry Plaza, are scheduled today to discuss the plans. The proposal is expected to be finalized early next year.

“The idea is to try to build an exclusive pedestrian area,” Port Waterfront Development Manager Jonathan Stern said. “Ferry Plaza is a large place and we’re committed to making it the best place it can be. We think it can be one of the great urban places in San Francisco.”

Additionally, a bicycle rental stand is planned to be added to an area next to the Ferry Building.

Port officials plan to begin searching early next year for a partner to run the rental program, which would be based on a similar program at Fisherman’s Wharf.

To help address bicycle thefts, which are rife on The Embarcadero, bicycle valet parking is envisioned at Harry Bridges Plaza — public space in front of the Ferry Building used by skateboarders and musicians.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition will run the service, based on an existing program at AT&T Park, by early next year.

Valets will be able hold 200 bicycles at a time every Saturday, when a farmers’ market takes place outside the Ferry Building, coalition executive director Leah Shahum said.

“Were starting with Saturdays because that’s the busiest day,” Shahum said. “I think we could look into expanding it to other days.”

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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