S.F. supervisors debate future of historical warehouse

Nearly six years after officials from the Port of San Francisco concluded that a dilapidated wooden shed on Fisherman’s Wharf should be demolished due to safety reasons, the debate rages on over whether the 1919 structure should be saved.

The vacant waterfront warehouse has been unoccupied for about six years. Its owner, the Port, declared it unsafe and ordered tenants to leave in 2000. At the crux of the debate is whether the building can be saved and whether it would cost the estimated $15 to $17 million. Demolishing it would cost around $1.5 million. Others are worried about toxics in the soil underneath.

The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to continue the so-called Wharf J-10 building matter until this week. It marked the second time in as many weeks the supervisors decided to revisit the controversial issue amid environmental concerns and worries that a historically significant building may be lost. Supervisors have yet to vote on the environmental impact report, which lays options for the shed’s future.

“We’re trying to see whether or not they (the Port) can offer some other alternatives or historical resources,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin said. “We’re waiting for them to come up with some suggestions.”

Peskin said there are numerous possibilities for saving the 24,000-square-foot wooden warehouse at the water’s edge at Hyde Street.

“Taking it apart or fixing it” are options, Peskin said. “It’s one of the last remaining old Fisherman’s Wharf buildings.”

The environmental impact report, which the Planning Commission approved in June, is being appealed to the Board of Supervisors by David Cincotta of the Alioto-Lazio Fish Co. The family business that once occupied the warehouse sued the Port and won a $3 million judgment in 2001. The 60-year-old fish company accused the Port of negligent maintenance of the property and for breach of the company’s longtime lease. The business was evicted with three days notice in 2000.

Angela Cincotta, a spokeswoman for the fish company, fears that contaminated soil under the building may present health and environmental concerns if the building is demolished. Petroleum seeped into the ground from nearby fuel handling facilities that Mobil once operated starting in the 1920s.

“They have not completed the contamination study,” Cincotta said. “I want to make sure no one’s going to get hurt.”

mcarroll@examiner.com

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