S.F. port sets sail on Pier 70 revitalization plan

A master plan to densely develop the Pier 70 area near Mission Bay — a possible $1 billion project — is in the initial stages of development.

The strongest market opportunities for development of the 65 acres at Pier 70 stems from its proximity to the emerging bioscience cluster at Mission Bay, Port of San Francisco officials said Wednesday night at a public meeting about the master plan.

In addition to the creation of a bioscience campus, other potential uses for the southeast area — located east of Illinois Street, between Mariposa and 22nd streets — include office facilities, light-industrial and commercial opportunities, and residential development. Visitor uses including a museum, an arts and film center, or exhibition complex are also possible.

Jim Musbach of Economic and Planning Systems, a consultant hired by the port, said the site’s size, as well as its waterfront location, proximity to Mission Bay, historic character and transit access to downtown, make it a “unique building opportunity” for a mixed-use district.

“Outside of Hunters Point … this is one of the last opportunities like this in San Francisco,” Musbach said.

The development effort would not be without challenges, including the costs for historic preservation, environmental remediation, developing open space and creating new infrastructure for the project, said David Beaupre, a master planning project manager for the port, who told The Examiner before the meeting that the estimated costs could be “upwards of a billion dollars.”

Originally developed between the 1850s and 1920s to serve the ship building and repair industries, as well as steel manufacturing enterprises, Pier 70 today has 40 remaining historic structures. It has been identified as a historic district and is potentially eligible for the National Park Service historic places program.

The historic resources, however, are severely deteriorated, so preservation costs would run high, according to port officials. The Pier itself will also require a complete upgrade or replacement that would drive up development costs.

Additionally, the 150-plus-year history of heavy industrial use at Pier 70 has left behind toxic waste that will require significant funding for environmental investigations and remediation.

“We anticipate that this site will have to be densely developed in order to generate enough revenue to carry these really substantial costs,” Musbach said.

The land is also held under what’s known as public trust, meaning the waterfront property is meant for maritime purposes and public enjoyment. Because the port hopes to create a master plan program that includes development opportunities to help finance its costs, officials are working with the State Lands Commission on some form of land “swap” within the planning area that would allow development on some areas, while preserving other nontrust lands for public use.

Ship repair site likely to remain among new buildings

The main tenant at Pier 70 is a ship repair facility, and port officials said they plan to incorporate its dry-dock operations into any future development plan.

The ship repair facility is an “incredibly important asset,” Port of San Francisco Executive Director Monique Moyer noted during a speech before a San Francisco Business Times-sponsored meeting last week. Moyer noted that the facility is upgrading in order to service very large commercial ships.

“Already, Princess Cruises has scheduled service here in September 2008,” Moyer said. “And the number of jobs that will go into serving that ship alone is equivalent to the number of jobs at the airport on any given day.”

At a public meeting about Pier 70 held Wednesday, some attendees expressed concern about putting a mixed-use development with office space and some residential units next to the heavy industrial facility.

The port looked into moving the facility, but its location is appropriate because of the depth of the water and the investment to date that’s been put into the facility, said David Beaupre, master planning project manager. Some community members have rallied behind keeping the facility at its current location, he added, due to its connection with Pier 70’s ship building history.

beslinger@examiner.com


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