It is always exciting when a densely built-out city such as San Francisco moves toward revitalizing drab, marginally used acreage into what could become a thriving enhancement for Bay Area quality of life. And especially welcome here is that the raw property is already publicly owned.
Port of San Francisco officials last week premiered a preliminary master plan for the 65-acre Pier 70 area just south of Mission Bay. Site development is envisioned as a high-density, multiple-use neighborhood, with revenue-producing activities helping support the cost of community attractions.
Some of the most promising commercial opportunities for a revived Pier 70 arise from its close proximity to the rising bioscience cluster at Mission Bay. Other market potentiality includes office campuses, light industrial facilities, retail/restaurant centers and high-rise residential development.
Visitor attractions are to be blended into the master plan, spearheading the vitality of a new urban district. These might include a contemporary museum, an arts and film production/exhibit center, open spaces and performance venues. After all, this is irreplaceable land, one of the very last major parcels available in The City. It should be used to benefit the wider public as well as to raise municipal revenue.
Only recently has the San Francisco waterfront begun to see more of its potential realized as a world-class attraction worthy of The City’s unique geography. It was a longtime civic embarrassment that our bayside waterfront consisted of miles of rundown warehouses south of the Marina, Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39.
The revival process began when the public demanded that a bay-blighting freeway be replaced by today’s Embarcadero Promenade. The revived Ferry Terminal followed, bringing a farmer’s market now recognized as one of the nation’s best. Then came the gemlike baseball stadium, new housing and retail at Mission Bay.
Now comes the turn of the Pier 70 area, and we urge the port officials not to let this exciting revitalization be delayed by endless nitpicking from special interests, as has happened far too often in the Bay Area.
Undeniably, there are obstacles ahead. These include environmental cleanup, costly preservation of historic buildings and the land’s “public trust” status reserving it for maritime purposes and public enjoyment. The port is already working on a “land swap” with the State Lands Commission to allow development uses to help finance the formidable redevelopment costs, which could reach $1 billion.
Particularly intriguing is the planners’ avowed intent to retain the job-generating ship repair facility on Pier 70. The dry docks are now being upgraded to accommodate very large commercial ships. One of the most unique elements of the Fisherman’s Wharf mystique has been the proximity of visitor attractions to the surviving boats of a commercial fishing fleet, and this effect could be replicated even more impressively at tomorrow’s Pier 70.