Plan would smooth water for cruise terminal

Office buildings on San Francisco’s southeast waterfront could help bankroll a cruise terminal north of the Ferry Building under a new financing strategy due to be considered today by the Port Commission.

Elements of the project not involved with cruise ships would be shifted to a 13-acre site owned by the Port of San Francisco at Piers 30-32 at The Embarcadero and Bryant Street, currently used as a parking lot, under new plans scheduled to be discussed today.

State law mandates that development of publicly owned port land must be used for trust purposes of maritime-related “commerce, navigation and fisheries.” But legislation passed in 2001 to support a previous terminal project at Piers 30-32, which was eventually abandoned by the developer, gave some support to the concept of the non-trust office uses financing the trust use of the cruise-ship terminal, according to Port documents.

The legislation, which still mandated state and local approvals for the project, would likely have to be newly enacted or amended, according to the Port.

The Telegraph Hill Dwellers neighborhood group, which opposed a proposal to build the terminal along with a retail-office development at Piers 27-31, is likely to support the new proposal, because the non-cruise-ship elements are being moved to another location, according to spokeswoman Vedica Puri.

Port Executive Director Monique Moyer recently told reporters that the development of Piers 30-32 at South Beach could “solve an otherwise blight problem of the neighborhood” while generating an income stream for construction of the $100 million cruise-ship terminal. The Port struggles under a mandate that it be financially self-sufficient, because it has infrastructure and repair costs for its aging piers that total an estimated $1.9 billion.

San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau President Joe D’Alessandro said a new cruise terminal would float big-spending visitors to The City and create construction and hospitality jobs.

“Tourism is San Francisco’s No. 1 industry, and if we want to stay competitive we have to invest in the future,” D’Alessandro said Monday. “One area that’s really important to us is the positioning of San Francisco as a cruise destination.”

Cruise ships bring in $60 million of consumer spending annually, in addition to tax revenue and jobs, according to 2006 Port data.

Commissioners will be asked today to allow Shorenstein Properties and Farallon Capital Management to present draft plans for new offices and open space at the southern waterfront site and for a new cruise terminal at the northern site no later than September.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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