The City in position to have two cruise terminals

After struggling unsuccessfully for years to establish one cruise terminal on the waterfront, San Francisco might wind up with two.

If The City is chosen to host the America’s Cup regatta in 2013, officials hope to use some of the development dollars to build a new airportlike cruise terminal at Pier 27, at the bottom of Telegraph Hill. But if the bid goes forward, Piers 30-32 just south of the Bay Bridge likely would become a cruise terminal as well.

Port officials say this is not a problem, and argue that it would be beneficial to have more berths available for cruise ships, which they have worked hard to attract.

Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office has been working feverishly to complete a deal that would bring the international yacht race to San Francisco, in exchange for allowing developers to have long-term development rights on the central waterfront.

Financial analysts have said the event could bring more than $1 billion in economic activity to the Bay Area, but some leaders have worried that the event will cost The City too much to host and would hand developers too many rights.

Today, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee will consider the deal. The full board must approve it by the end of the year.

If the deal goes through, the America’s Cup Event Authority would invest millions into restoring Piers 30-32 for the event, and also would invest in Pier 27 on the northern waterfront.  

The Port of San Francisco expects that the investment in Pier 27 will advance its plan to build a high-caliber cruise terminal on that pier. Jonathan Stern, the Port’s deputy director of waterfront development, said that terminal would serve as the “primary” terminal.

“It will resemble something like an airport, with places for waiting and check-in and baggage. And it has specifically a building that has traffic flow so people getting on and off will be separated,” Stern said.

There will be about 10,000 to 15,000 square feet of retail space in the building.

But a second pier would likely be erected at Piers 30-32. Several years ago, a developer planned a cruise terminal there as part of a mixed-use development, with about 200,000 square feet of retail space and about 325,000 square feet of office space. The plan needed special entitlements, so The City went to the California Legislature to pass a bill allowing the project.

That project never materialized, but the use is still authorized and it is still considered the most profitable project for the space, so it is likely the new developers will move forward with it.

Stern said the Piers 30-32 cruise terminal likely will not be as elaborate as the “primary” terminal at Pier 27, but could be useful to The City.

“Specifically in April and September, we often have three or four ships in at once,” he said. “Secondary berths would be very valuable.”

kworth@sfexaminer.com

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