Revitalized waterfront a boon for business

Classy waterfront eateries will stretch from the Ferry Building to Broadway following the successful years-long revitalization of historic Embarcadero buildings.

The $50 million redevelopment of piers 1½, 3 and 5 was approved in 2001 and completed in late 2006, and the third and final restaurant is expected to open in early next year.

Restaurateur Russell Jackson is preparing to open Lafitte in a small space at Pier 5, with enclosed outdoor seating planned between the bulkhead building and the wooden Pier 7.

The restaurant will be between The Plant Cafe Organic, which opened earlier this year, and the Waterfront Restaurant and Cafe on the opposite side of Pier 7.

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana was the first restaurant to open in the redeveloped area when it began serving Peruvian dishes at Pier 1½ last fall.

Jackson said The Embarcadero location will be a boon for his latest business venture, with waterfront restaurants in The City proving to be hits.

“This road is paved with gold,” he said. “It couldn’t be a better place to open up a restaurant.”

To compensate for placing canopied seating on public land, public improvements must be funded at Pier 7. Those are likely to include new seating and signs, and public chessboards are being considered.

Office, retail and restaurant spaces in the redeveloped buildings are 90 percent leased, said Alicia Esterkamp, principal of lead developer Pacific Waterfront Partners.

“We’ve secured major office anchor tenants, including Bloomberg, Renaissance and Geolo Capital,” she said. “Both restaurants are doing very well, even in this economy.”

The buildings were so badly run- down before being redeveloped that two were unsafe to use, said Byron Rhett, Port of San Francisco planning director. The structures date back to San Francisco’s waterfront-dominated industrial past.

“We gave the developer rent credits for the substructure repair, so we’re not seeing much revenue,” Rhett said. “This is really more about activating The Embarcadero, bringing more people to the waterfront and restoring and maintaining facilities that the Port couldn’t afford to repair or maintain.”

Port Commission Chairman Rodney Fong, whose family owns the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf, praised the redevelopment project as handsome, well-lit and marked by good-quality craftsmanship.

“With the boats and the Bay Bridge in the background, it’s just phenomenal,” he said.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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